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!

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Back to the Future Part III (1990)


100 Year Ago?!  That’s THIS Year!!

I’m so depressed now.  I have finished watching my favorite trilogy and there are no more to watch.  The reviews for the finale have gone up a little bit from the 64% that Rotten Tomatoes gave Part 2 into 71% for Part 3.  But that’s not what I say because Rotten Tomatoes just doesn’t take me seriously for some reason, so fuck those guys.  You guys came to hear what I think about this movie.  Let’s find out now in my review of Back to the Future Part 3, again written by Bob Gale, again directed by Robert Zemeckis, and again starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Mary Steenburgen, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, Matt Clark, Pat Buttram, Harry Carey Jr., Dub Taylor, Richard Dysart, James Tolkan, Donovan Scott, Burton Gilliam, Bill McKinney, Flea, Jeffrey Weissman, Marc McClure, Wendie Jo Sperber, and ZZ Top.

At the end of the last movie, Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) disappeared, having been inside the time-travelling DeLorean while it was struck by lightning, leaving nothing but a flaming 99 in the sky and a stunned Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) watching from the street.  But his spirits are lifted when a mailman (Joe Flaherty) shows up to give him a letter from September 5th, 1885.  In the letter, Doc explains that the time circuits sent him back to the old west, but he doesn’t want Marty to come save him.  Marty returns to the Doc Brown of 1955 and enlists him to help get the DeLorean (which was left in a cemetery-adjacent cave) and repair it so he can return to 1985.  But, as they load up the DeLorean, Doc’s dog finds a grave with Doc’s name on it, saying he was shot in the back over a matter of 80 dollars by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) and left his beloved Clara.  Marty determines that he must go back to 1885 to save the Doc from his fate.  Upon returning, the DeLorean’s fuel line is struck by an arrow and Marty is chased out of a cave by a bear, falling down a hill and knocking himself unconscious on a wooden fence.  He wakes up in the house of his ancestor, Seamus (Michael J. Fox again) and Maggie McFly (Lea Thompson).  Marty goes into Hill Valley and runs afoul of Tannen, but is rescued by the Doc.  They resolve to return to 1985, but without gasoline, they must find another way to get the DeLorean up to 88mph.

It’s probably going to shock you all to hear that I loved this movie as well.  The story did not falter all the way through, the movie is supported by the same quality of music, it’s still fun, has lots of comedy, lots of action, they bring back the romantic angle, and there’s some minor darkness to the movie, though not as much as Part 2.  Plus, they made it mostly a western, so I’m totally on board.  Perhaps the darkness of Part 2 drove people away because they just wanted these movies to be fun, but who knows?  The only negative I had was that the ending was slightly disappointing, but we’ll get to that a little later.  I thought for this movie that it would have been a bit annoying to see these movies in theaters as there’s a big cliffhanger at the end of Part 1 and 2 and then having to wait 4 years after the first and one year after the second to get satisfaction would be difficult.  I never had to deal with that though, as I started watching them when my mother already owned all three on VHS.  They do the history repeating itself thing again in this movie, which they would kind of have to as it was in all of them.  Thomas F. Wilson’s character again walks into a bar/diner type of place and harasses Michael J. Fox, having to quickly cover the DeLorean because the love interest in the movie is about to walk in, the Doc apologizing because the diorama he made is not to scale, the Doc has made another Rube Goldberg machine in the old west that makes his breakfast, and Wilson’s character again falls into manure.  Marty even makes reference to it when he says “Why do we always have to cut these things so close?”  Also, Marty’s “Hey, look!  A distraction!” thing continues to get him out of sticky situations.  The “Eastwood Ravine” thing was also very similar to the Twin/Lone Pine(s) Mall thing.  They bring the romance back into the movie that was kind of missing in Part 2.  Part 1 had Lorraine and George, Part 2 kind of has a vague romance to Jennifer and Marty, but not a strong one, and Part 3 brings in Clara Clayton for the Doc to fall in love with.  I liked her character and I liked that the Doc would get some.  It seemed a bit out of character for him to fall so deeply in love so quickly, but that’s how love do sometimes.  I also liked that he saved her from death, and the whole discussion about the name of the ravine.  It makes sense because taking Clara out of 1885 would not change history because she was supposed to have died, so she wouldn’t be missed.  The whole “chicken” thing for Marty that started in Part 2 got tied up in this movie, leaving us with a nice message about not letting people’s opinions of you do something stupid.  They also kind of set up this entire movie (and at least one big pay off) from when Biff was watching A Fistful of Dollars in Part 2.  The climactic scene at the end on the train was also pretty spectacular.  The ending of the movie itself disappointed me a little bit.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  I feel like it kind of strains credulity that the Doc could invent another time machine using a train from 1885, one that could not only travel through time, but also could fly (which either meant he was able to do it 130 years earlier than the rest of humanity, or he was able to travel to 2015 before visiting Marty in 1985).  But, honestly, this isn’t what disappointed me.  I would’ve been bummed if the Doc was stuck back in 1885, even if he did have Clara.  I liked that he was able to continue time traveling, plus had his wife and 2 kids.  What really disappointed me was that there was only three of these movies.  I want more, damnit!  ::END SPOILER::

What a surprise!  The cast didn’t really change and they all still rule.  Michael J. Fox displayed more range in Part 2, but was still fantastic in this movie.  I liked him as a old west gunfighter too.  But why the hell would he give up that sweet pistol?  I understand he had no use for it, but it was an awesome gun.  Fox also got to be Seamus McFly, and I loved the accent that he put on for it.  Christopher Lloyd gets to display more range in this movie, mostly being the wacky Doc that we love, but once he’s around Clara, he’s all gushy-eyed and in love.  After they have a fight, he pulls off super depressed about it very well.  I also found it really amusing when Marty says “Great Scott” and Doc says “I know, it’s heavy.”  The best thing Doc ever did in the series was in this movie, when he tripped one of Buford’s gang members as they ran away.  Get ‘im, Doc!  I liked Mary Steenburgen as an addition to the cast.  She seems exactly like the kind of person that Doc would fall for.  She’s a teacher, she’s smart, strong, a little bit clumsy and goofy, pretty, and she digs on Jules Verne.  Thomas F. Wilson played the same kind of character, but he really worked as an old west bad guy.  That guy could play a bad guy in any era.  I actually got really angry at him when he was getting all frisky on Mary Steenburgen.  That’s Doc’s girl!  Lea Thompson isn’t in the movie as much, but I also liked the accent she puts on as Maggie McFly.  That may have been where my crush on her was cemented.  It was her regular hotness, but with an adorable accent.  Another great part about this movie is that it got to bring back many forgotten old west character actors such as Pat Buttram, Harry Carey Jr., Dub Taylor, and (my personal favorite) Burton Gilliam from Blazing Saddles!

I doubt these reviews were very surprising to you, and for that I … well I really don’t feel anything about it.  These aren’t supposed to be surprising, they’re supposed to be entertaining, just like the Back to the Future series.  …Yeah, good segway, Robert!  I love this movie because it takes everything we loved about both of the previous movies, added a western, and lost nothing in the process.  This is a great movie.  I would have to say that I kind of agree with Rotten Tomatoes in my ratings of the series, but not to the degree they go to.  I would say that the first movie is the best, Part 3 is the second best, and Part 2 is the third best.  I would say my reviews of them would be closer to Part 1 = 100%, Part 2 = 95%, and Part 3 = 98%.  I love these movies, what can I say?  As with both other movies, every person in the world should see these movies.  Even if you didn’t like one of them that much, you have to enjoy all three back to back.  Some of my favorite movies ever, and quite possibly my favorite trilogy ever (because Star Wars and Lord of the Rings aren’t really trilogies anymore, are they?).  Back to the Future Part 3 gets “See you in the future” out of “Your future is whatever you make it.  So make it a good one.”

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!

The Help (2011)


You is Kind. You is Smart. And You Really Want to Be More Important Than You Probably is.

I was not excited to watch today’s movie, and not just for fear of how many racist/sexist jokes I might make. I liked who I knew in the cast, had been told really good things about other people in the cast, but I have gone on record in saying that I am not a fan of dramas. I don’t know why I would want to pay money to go somewhere and feel bad for myself. And to make that worse, why would I pay money to have a movie make me feel bad for being white? And that’s exactly what I expected out of The Help. Either that, or a movie about how liberated and progressive Emma Stone is, and how she should be praised as a superhero for black people. Either way, I didn’t want to do that. So when my coworker, Samrizon, suggested that I watch and review this movie, I said okay. ‘Cause that’s how I do, people! The Help was an adaptation of a novel by Kathryn Stockett, written and directed for screen by Tate Taylor, and stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia L. Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, Mary Steenburgen, Aunjanue Ellis, Sissy Spacek, Ahna O’Reilly, and Cicely Tyson. Let’s find out how many times I yelled “Go on, Soul Sister!” during this movie.

Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) has just moved back home after graduating, and takes up employment with a “homemaker hints” column in the local newspaper. She goes to the maid, Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis), for advice for the column, but this is short lived as Aibileen’s boss, Elizabeth Leefolt (Ahna O’Reilly), thinks it’s getting in the way of Aibileen’s work. Meanwhile, another white woman named Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a dirty, racist bitch. She fires her maid, Minny Jackson (Octavia Spencer), for using her white people toilet with Minny’s black booty, just ’cause there was a hurricane going on outside and Minny didn’t want to go out there to use the outdoors, black people toilet. Publisher Elain Stein (Mary Steenburgen) gives Skeeter the idea that she should write something she cares about that no one wants to talk about. That gives Skeeter the idea to interview all of the black maids and put their stories into a book that she can take credit for, but the maids argue her down to not giving anyone credit for it and just telling the stories.

This movie is thoroughly okay. I think it’s probably the story that held me back the most. I mean, we had a good arrangement going and Skeeter had to go and muck it all up. Okay, that’s not what I meant. It just all seemed a little obvious, and I wasn’t able to connect to it. I know that things were shitty for black people back in the 50’s or 60’s, but I wasn’t there and I wasn’t black so I can’t connect. I could connect with white males, sure, but there were barely any in this movie. All this being the case, I couldn’t judge my feelings about what was happening in the movie from experience. Judging it from today’s standards and all of the white people are pretty on the nose in their depictions, and the situations all seem a bit melodramatic. There’s the white girl that is super progressive for her time and regards the black people as equals or better, there’s the white girl who is openly and aggressively racist, there’s the old mother who seems to have found the error of her ways in her old age, and the old mother who loves her maid but is too afraid to be different in order to defend her. There’s also a good deal of Breakfast Club-style archetypes in this movie with Howard as the leader of the popular club, Stone as the artsy quasi-outcast, and Jessica Chastain as the girl that’s an outcast because she’s with the queen bee’s ex-boyfriend. It does have a good message, but one that is nowhere near as powerful today as it would have been back then. Not that racism is gone today or anything, but most people going to see this movie probably don’t have experience dealing with racism on that level. Then again, I’m a white guy, so what do I know? If I was writing this review in the 60’s, I would only be seeing status quo and not racism, and I would be worshiped as a God because I owned a computer and had the internet.

There were a couple of things that didn’t make any sense to me in this movie. First off, why put a shot of a good lookin woman like Emma Stone in her underwear if you’re gonna make her wear that gross, period-correct underwear. Underwear was gross back in the day. There’s also a scene where Emma Stone’s mother, Allison Janney, wakes Emma up and her reaction is so weird that it threw me off. She yelled “No” as she was waking up in a way that seemed more like her mom was killing a puppy in front of her than just her not wanting to wake up yet. There was a major storyline going on in the movie about Bryce Dallas Howard hating Jessica Chastain, but I never really understood why. They mentioned that Howard thought Chastain had been fucking Howard’s boyfriend while they were still dating, but her reaction seemed a little much for something that wasn’t actually happening. There’s also a part in the movie where Minnie gets back at Hilly by feeding her a pie with her shit in it. That’s real. Howard was such a bitch in the movie that my problem clearly isn’t the fact that she ate shit, but how much sugar would it take to make a pie not only edible with shit in it, but Howard seemed to think it was delicious!

The performances in the movie range from pretty good to fantastic. Emma Stone was pretty good, and had a couple good moments based around her maid Constantine (Cicely Tyson), who had raised her more than her mother, but was recently fired by her mother. The rest of the time she was fine, but not spellbinding. Viola Davis was almost always spellbinding. I don’t know that I’ve seen her in a movie before, but she was good as shit. When she told the story about her son to Skeeter, it was heartbreaking. I hated Bryce Dallas Howard’s guts throughout the movie, but it’s not a negative for her because that’s the reaction you’re supposed to have to that character. She’s always got this happy, nice facade up, but underneath she’s a snooty, hateful bitch. She’s not so much a racist, but only because she seems to be shitty to everyone. I guess she does kick it up a notch for black people. Octavia Spencer was good, but I don’t recall any parts where she really caught my attention except in the scenes where she interacted with Jessica Chastain. I liked their relationship a lot. Chastain’s character was probably the second white person who wasn’t a racist in the movie, not because she was taking a stand like Emma Stone, but because she just seemed too innocent, as if she just wasn’t aware of the fact that she was supposed to be racist. Sissy Spacek was as good as she always is, but she didn’t have many emotional scenes. She actually worked mostly as comic relief in this movie. She was losing her memory, but having fun with it. And I totally believe Spacek as Howard’s mother. Them’s good casting.

The Help is a fine movie that just doesn’t connect with this shut-in white guy. The story’s fine but perhaps a bit obvious, with characters that are well-performed but written a little heavy with the archetypes. I got this movie from a RedBox and I feel satisfied with the experience for a dollar. I think you will be too. And if you have to wait for it to arrive from Netflix, probably the same. I can’t say that I like this movie enough to run out and buy it, but if I see it on sale, maybe. The Help gets “Fried chicken just tend to make you feel better about life” out of “That’s a quote from the movie. Don’t call me a racist!”

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!