The Proposal (2009)

Will You Marry Me?  Because I’d Like to Date You

I have only dim recollection of what lead me to put today’s movie in my Netflix queue, and I’m pretty sure it was mostly based on the fact that Sandra Bullock was nude (ish) in the movie.  I’m not sure that this could be the entirety of the situation because I was well aware of the fact that she covered up all the good bits.  And so I am lead to believe that something about this Rom-Com sparked my interest, whether it was the stars of the movie, the expectation of charm from the movie, or maybe I just wanted to shit on it in a review.  Whatever lead me to it, the movie finally arrived (though it was mainly because I wasn’t paying attention to what was coming up on my queue) and I sat down and watched it.  The Proposal was written by Peter Chiarelli, directed by Anne Fletcher, and starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Denis O’Hare, Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Oscar Nunez, Malin Akerman, and Aasif Mandvi.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is an editor at a book publishing company who moonlights as a mega-bitch.  America comes along with a way to put this uppity bitch in her place: Canada.  Turns out she never got her work visa renewed and she’s going to get deported.  Inspiration comes in the well-chiseled form of her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who unwittingly gets roped into fake marrying her.  All their problems are not quite solved, as Immigration Officer Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) will be keeping a close eye on them.  To keep up the facade, Margaret accompanies Andrew to Sitka, Alaska, where he was headed to celebrate the birthday of his grandmother Annie (Betty White), along with his mother Grace (Mary Steenburgen), father Joe (Craig T. Nelson), and ex-girlfriend Gertrude (Malin Akerman).  Chances are very good that things will not go smoothly.

I was very surprised to find myself somewhat charmed by this movie.  Much less surprised, however, to find that I had a couple of complaints about it.  It’s a romantic comedy to be sure, but neither the romance nor the comedy worked very well for me.  I’m not too masculine to admit when I like a Rom-Com.  In fact, I’m not too masculine at all.  There have been a few Rom-Com’s that I’ve found appealing in the past, but this movie didn’t live up to it’s genre.  The romance of the movie was somewhat present, but one of the biggest part of the Rom-Com is at the very end, having endured the hardships that the movie has put upon the couple only to leave them realizing that they’re actually in love and coming together with some big gushy speech and a kiss.  It had the hardships, it had the love, and it had the reunion, but the big gushy speech didn’t have the impact that better written movies usually do in this moment.  The last speech should be so icky and cheesy that women should get so moist downstairs that they slide out of their movie theater seats.  That sentence had plenty of icky, but lacked cheesiness, so I wouldn’t put it in a Rom-Com.  The second half of the genre never really showed up for me either.  The movie had it’s charms, but barely strayed too near actual funniness.  The greater majority of the attempts at comedy in this movie were people asking Margaret and Andrew a relationship question and they had to bumble about to make up an answer.  Also, who the fuck just randomly tells people they need to make out in front of them?  At one point, right after announcing their “engagement”, the people of Andrew’s family say “KISS HER!” and will not take no for an answer.  Why not just leave behind all civility and command him to throw her to the ground and dry hump her until their pants start a fire?  Some people (decent people, if you ask me) don’t feel it’s appropriate to make out in public.  I’m okay with a goodbye peck, but when my high school friend tried to see how far he could get his tongue down his girlfriend’s throat as my mother and I stood by waiting to give him a ride home, civilized folk might think that to be in poor taste.  Let’s face it, the whole movie is so predictable that you can watch the trailer and give a dissertation on the whole movie, as if the trailer itself served double duty as the Cliff Notes.  It has the same problems as the greater majority of Chick Flicks in that it cannot deviate from the pattern.  Problem, off-kilter solution, speed bumps, climactic boiling point, gushy speech, love, ending.  There’s a Rom-Com for you.  I know there are some women smart enough to not have their ponytail explode on them if there is an unexpected twist in a movie, but they still flock to these movies as if their vaginas were going to stop working if they didn’t.  I guess men have our big dumb action flicks as the other side of that coin.  They even do that thing I point out a lot where they “subtly” have Margaret announce “You know I can’t swim” early on in the movie and SURPRISE, she falls into the water later on.  For another note, I found it amusing that the movie opened with Sandra Bullock doing the exact same thing I was doing: riding a stationary bike while watching a TV.  Yes, with my new exercise plan of riding a bike as I do my movies, you will all soon love me for my mind AND body.  Also, Ryan Reynolds was in my bed, just as he was in the movie!  But that’s another story.

I think any issues I had with this movie would mainly be the cause of the writers and not the cast.  They performed as well as they could under the circumstances.  Sandra Bullock played it bitchy, standoffish, and out of her element for the greater majority of the movie.  I still found myself charmed by her, even with her rough exterior.  When that exterior begins to crack and you see signs of the vulnerable person beneath, she hooked me.  One thing she did in the movie brought a very important question to mind: do women not know about morning wood?  She seemed very shocked and confused by Reynold’s morning wood, but I was under the impression that this was a well-known phenomenon.  Of course, I am a guy.  Speaking of, Ryan Reynolds is in this movie too.  I never really understood his appeal though.  I mean, I look exactly the same as he does with my shirt off, but I have the decency to keep my shirt on.  Does every man not look like us?  I’m confused …  Either way, he’s in the movie so he, of course, gets his abs out.  I felt like he was a little too much of a dick to Bullock once he was taking advantage of doing her a favor.  I understand that everyone in the movie world dealt with Sandra being a bitch for 3 years, but we only had about a half hour of it before he started being the asshole, so our impression as an audience would tend to sway towards “Why’s he being such a dick?”  Betty White was pretty enjoyable in the movie, but they take the easy approach to making comedy for her by turning everything she does into “Old People Do the Darnedest Things”.  The part where she was doing the strange chanting thing in the woods served no purpose whatsoever, especially since it wasn’t very humorous.  And how did an uptight person like Margaret know the lyrics to “Get Low” by Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz?  She’s an editor, and should find the misspelling of “little” and “boys” abhorrent.  Mary Steenburgen had a disappointingly small role in the movie, and Craig T. Nelson pretty much just served as the antagonist to Reynolds.  Oscar Nunez had some parts that some might find funny, but I don’t find it shocking enough to see an out of shape person dancing in Speedos.  I see that all the time.  The idea that he played so many roles around town could have been funny, but they didn’t really write it to much effect.  It was novel of the movie to not take the obvious approach with Malin Akerman’s ex-girlfriend character, making her a bitch who would get in the way of Sandra and Ryan, but they just decided to make her wallpaper for most of the scenes she was in.  Pretty to look at, but you forget it’s there after some time.  Having her going after Reynolds would’ve been an interesting quandary.  Given the choice, I think I’d have a hard time choosing between Sandra Bullock and Malin Akerman too.  I guess it would depend on what I was choosing them for.  Sandra’s the kind you take home to momma, and Malin seems like the kind that you just take home.  I suppose there’s a chance she’s got a good personality to go with them good looks though.

I feel like this is a movie that the cast did their best to elevate, but the writers could not be swayed to do anything beyond the cookie cutter movie.  If you know this movie exists, you can probably tell me (with a very low margin of error) exactly where it’s going.  It’s charming, but not that romantic or funny.  It’s not painful to watch, but it’s entirely forgettable.  And skippable.  I don’t think I’d recommend you watch this movie, but I also don’t think you’d hate it if you did.  I’ll leave you to make your own decisions.  I’ve given you enough random words for this day.  To add a few more, The Proposal gets “I’m sorry for feeding you to the eagle” out of “I call it ‘The Baby Maker’.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Poltergeist (1982)

This House …………………………… is Clean

One of the final movies of the October Horror-thon will be a movie that I vaguely believe my roommate Richard suggested I review. I remember him mentioning it but it may not have been an official request. Whatever, I’m doin’ it! Today’s movie will be the classic horror movie, Poltergeist, directed by Tobe Hooper, presented to us by Steven Spielberg, and starring Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O’Rourke, Oliver Robins, Dominique Dunne, Zelda Rubinstein, Beatrice Straight, and Richard Lawson.

Steven (Craig T. Nelson) and Diane (JoBeth Williams) Freeling live a fairly uneventful life with their three children, Dana (Dominique Dunne), Robbie (Oliver Robins), and Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke). Steven is a realtor and Diane is a stay at home wife, Dana and Robbie are kids, and Carol Anne talks to TVs. Absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. One night, while Carol Anne is having a riveting chat with her friends the “TV People”, a ghostly hand comes out of the TV and jumps into the wall, waking her family. Carol Anne informs them, famously, that “They’re here.” The crazy times begin to occur with a greater degree of frequency. Drinking glasses break, chairs movie and spontaneously stack themselves, all that normal stuff. It begins to get a little big troublesome when the ugly, old tree in their backyard breaks a window and tries to eat Robbie. While Steven and Diane try to rescue him, Carol Anne is sucked into the closet and she disappears. If this girl was gay, her eventual escape from her closet domain would set up a great joke. Instead, they can just have conversations with her through the TV. With the help of some paranormal investigators and a fat, midget, female Elvis, the family must try to rescue their daughter from the TV.

This is a fairly older movie, but it stands up on a lot of levels. There are a couple of things that don’t really hold up, but I feel it’s just because of either the budget, the time, or both. We’ll get into that as it comes. The story still works and I feel like the movie could have a pretty awesome remake if they wanted, as long as they didn’t screw that up. Of course, the whole premise that the movie starts with, that a TV, if left on long enough, will play some pro-America thing and then go to static would be lost on today’s youth. The little girl would have to try to talk to the TV through commercials about making your penis bigger. But I always approve of a good ghost movie, so I’m willing to accept that. I wouldn’t say this horror movie was that scary by today’s standards. I don’t know that it would have been back when it came out because the only thing I thought was scary at the time was the prospect of not being the first sperm to the egg. But they did some cool scary things and had some things that were more goofy. The chairs moving and stuff was just there. The tree trying to eat the boy and the coffins sprouting out of the ground were the closest they got to scares. The Incredible Hulk riding a floating horse toy around the bedroom could possibly qualify as goofy. That actually happened, by the way. I wish I could make that up.

The effects are the things that don’t always hold up in this movie. Some of them still work great, but some of them are laughably bad. The ghosts, for instance, are awesome. They’re a lot like the ghosts from Ghostbusters. You can see through them, but not the look nor the lighting of the room around them give a clue to the fact that it was probably superimposed. They look really good. The part where the steak is crawling across the counter is kind of funny, but the effect holds up, and it quickly turns gross. I’m not sure what the story was with the afterbirth that covered the things that came out of the ceiling portal after being thrown into the closet, but it still worked. Also, this movie did a thing similar to A Nightmare on Elm Street when the poltergeist grabs JoBeth Williams and drags her up the wall like she’s in a Jamiroquai video, which only serves to make me MORE angry at A Nightmare on Elm Street because one of the few cool things they did in their movie was stolen from a much better movie. By the way, I am proud to admit that I totally spelled Jamiroquai correctly on the first try. The biggest thing that does not hold up at all is the part where one of the investigators is made to hallucinate that he’s tearing his own face off. It starts off with him looking at a fairly well done scar on his face, cuts to the sink, and cuts back to the most obviously and laughably fake head I’ve seen in recent memory. I know this movie is older than I am so I give it a pass, but it’s what makes me think they should remake it. They could totally make that brutal and terrifying today.

The acting was definitely solid, especially for a movie with so many kids in it. Generally speaking, I don’t expect a kid to be able to act unless it’s last name is Fanning, but these ones all did fairly well. Dominique Dunne was inexplicably absent for a good part of the movie. She was apparently on a date when the family was trying to save Carol Anne and wasn’t present for most of the rest of the movie. Heather O’Rourke was ridiculously adorable and even a little bit creepy. I liked her performance. On the other hand, that little boy pissed me off. He had gigantic buck teeth and whined in the most irritating way when he first heard Carol Anne’s voice coming from the TV that I knew I would’ve choked him out if I were there. SAY IT WITH YOUR WORDS, YOU BUCK TOOTHED PIECE OF … okay, I may have overreacted … Oh no, he’s not breathing. Both of the parents did a fine job. Craig T. Nelson is pretty charming for the first part of the movie and seemingly turns into a sleep-deprived alcoholic overnight when Carol Anne goes missing. Certainly the breakthrough performance of this movie was fat, midget, female Elvis, Zelda Rubinstein. For more than just sharing a name with a great video game series, I liked her. That is, of course, assuming her purpose was to make me laugh by just being there. But what was up with those construction workers that were putting the pool in their backyard? Were they the only construction guys in town or something? ‘Cause these dudes didn’t seem to do much work, made lewd gestures at their underage daughter as her mother watched, and leaned into the kitchen to grub on their food right out of the pot and put that saliva drenched spoon back into the chili pot. How are they still working?

Also, it turned out it was a bad idea to click through on Wikipedia to the life stories of the three kids from this movie. All three of their careers are dead but that’s mostly because the two girls are FULLY dead. The youngest, Heather O’Rourke, died at 12 from cardiac arrest brought on by the flu, and the oldest, Dominique Dunne, was strangled to death by an ex-boyfriend in front of her house. Dude only served 4 years. I would recommend that you do no such research on the movie, but I’ve already done it for you. Instead, I’ll just recommend that you watch Poltergeist. There are a couple of things that don’t hold up in this movie, but not enough to keep it from being a good watch. I’ll give this movie “This house has many hearts” out of “Go to the light!”

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