Friday, June 26, 2009


So Sandra Bullock was hitting the TV talk show circuit, promoting The Proposal by playing up her "nude" scene--a first for her. When I think about it, it seems a little odd for a woman to go on national TV and say, HEY--COME CHECK OUT MY BODY, EVERYBODY! It just illustrates how convoluted our moral standards are in this country. If a teacher posted racy photos of herself on the web, she'd lose her job. If a politician fools around on his spouse, it's a big scandal. But actors flaunt convention all the time in their steamy sex scenes...and they even allow it to be filmed! HAVE THEY NO SHAME? Actors are held to no moral standard whatsoever, because it's just "acting"--even though they may exert more influence over a greater number of people (their fans) than any one teacher has over her relative handful of students.

At times, we may feel like knocking other people around a bit to relieve our anger and frustrations. But we don't do that--we watch a football game instead. Actors provide a similar kind of safety valve by portraying things that many of us would LIKE to do ourselves, but know that we'll get into trouble for if we do. And if an actor is really feeling the part, it ain't acting--okay? (Remember, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fell in love on the movie set.) So they're getting away with it, is my point.

And as to the heretofore mentioned "nekkid" scene--well, kiddies, it's a PG-13 flick, so get your expectations back in line with reality, and understand that there are many creative ways to conceal the naked truth--and Bullock is an expert at it.
And NOW...back to our movie! Margaret (Sandra Bullock) is editor-in-chief at a New York publishing firm. She intimidates all the underlings that inhabit the place, including her assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). But she's a Canadian citizen, and a snafu with her visa may result in her getting kicked out of the country...unless...AHA! She'll get Andrew to agree to a sham marriage (and later, a quickie divorce) and the problem will go away. Andrew goes along with it--he knows she's in a vulnerable position--and he can squeeze some concessions out of her. Like publishing his novel, for one thing. But there's an Immigration guy (Denis O'Hare) who is on to them from the beginning, and he hounds them all the way to Alaska where they've gone to meet Andrew's family, just to make the charade appear legit. The gang that plays Andrew's family: Mary Steenburgen, (mom) Craig T. Nelson, (pop) and Betty White ("Gammy") embodies inspired casting. And you can always count on something coming out of Betty White's mouth that's off the wall and unexpected. If you've never been to Alaska, (one of my old stomping grounds) you need to see this movie just to get a taste of how pristine and downright gorgeous the place is.

You can sniff out the ending of this one early on--in fact, you can pretty much figure out how ANY romantic comedy is going to go, once the premise is laid out. But that doesn't count as a strike against The Proposal. A rom com is a rom com is a rom com...and when in Rome, you do as the Romans do (unless you're the pope). In short, the leading couple is going to end up happy, one way or another. Where romantic comedies succeed is in sowing the seeds of doubt among non-film critics as to whether that happy ending is actually going to come about, as they cross their fingers and hope against hope that it will.

Going in, I had this one pegged as more lighthearted fluff--Sandra Bullock's stock in trade. But DAMN, it's so nice when a movie exceeds your expectations by a mile and then some. Lighthearted fluff in the minds of some, perhaps-- but this is a beautiful film. Not only cinematically, but in spirit as well. And it's genuinely funny.

The Proposal was made the way they used to make movies...with tremendous heart and devotion to the craft. I say you better see it.


(I'm only taking off a few points for the "too much ado" nekkid scene.)