Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Proposal: pleasant in-flight Fayre

If you’re a maxed out Potterholic, or you’ve watched one too many black and white Estonian arthouse movies about mysterious old women who sing to the moon, you may find yourself hungry this summer for a simpler, homelier, all-American Disney entertainment experience.

A hearty chick flick, lightweigh
t but good natured, could be the Answer. Something like The Proposal, Anne Fletcher’s latest.

It’s kinda His Girl Friday in reverse. She is an hard bitch editor, about to be deported back to Canada, the NY equivalent of being shot into space. He is an all round nice guy, from a good family who own half of Alaska — the non-Sarah-Palin half where old dears frequent stripclubs and prance around in the woods rather than going to bible study and playing the guitar badly for Church. I had no idea they had Tom Jones lookalike Hispanic strippers come general store owners and part time Ministers in Alaska, but what do I know?

Ryan Reynolds is the decent, warm but essentially gormless rich boy estranged from his old dad; disturbingly more like the real young George Dubya Bush than Cary Grant, perhaps. There’s a kind of “Cary Grant Resurrection” feel about the speedboat scene, although, brrr, Cary would probably have dropped his gal off the boat in Florida not Alaska. Nothing wrong with that lot, but nothing stunningly right, either.

The closest it gets to LOL City is a scene in the garden with a yapping lapdog that indicates rural Alaska could do with a few more Korean restaurants. There’s as few belly laughs as belly dancers in the movie, but it’s relentlessly cheerful and good natured. Coincidentally, it saves you the time and money you otherwise might have spent going to an airport to have an innocent chuckle at a dim government official. I am struggling not to give too much away, because once the basic pitch has been formulated, it’s pretty much the plot. If you don’t want know, however, avert your eyes from the trailer, now:

The goods are competently delivered, spiced up by jolly devices like the frantic chase after the Romantic Other to say it's on after all, a Mama Mia type wedding scene in the garden, and a few kind pensioner laughs and hick jokes. It proclaims the power of home and family to melt the hardest heart. I tried to love it, and almost managed. So what’s not to like?

Given the general predictability of the formula, the script has a lot of grunt work to do sustaining enough “will they won’t they” to keep the aspidistra flying. This it doesn’t really do. I came away feeling the excellent leads deserved a slightly sharper script, especially Sandra Bullock, since she’s supposed to be the world’s most rapier-like editor.

This film will warm the cockles of your heart, but then all you’ve got, as Woody Allen once famously pointed out, is hot cockles. If that’s enough for you, this is a movie for you. It’s as good an excuse asany for an evening out with your lover and soul friend. It would probably go well with an airline meal. Coach class, though, enlivened by occasional flashes of chemistry.

This film is unlikely to win over hardened cynics to the genre, so if you like chick flicks, you’ll probably give it three stars out of five. Otherwise, whether you prefer Estonian arthouse movies or Big CGI, you’ll probably give it two. It’s a nice idea, competently delivered, but not quite all it might have been in the script department...


Tim Chesterton said...

I thought the scene with the eagle, the dog, and the cell phone was the funniest one in the movie.

Ann said...

Did you get this message? You don't have to post this to your blog.

RuthieGledhillUrgently trying to reach Bishop of Buckingham @alantlwilson for comment for news story for The Times ref

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