Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"The Proposal": a man is conscripted into marriage


One of the most “offensive” of all suggestions is that a man (before fathering children) should be “drafted” into marriage to preserve the social or business agenda of someone else. But that is the point of the new situation comedy “The Proposal” from director Anne Fletcher and Touchstone Pictures. I notice that Walt Disney Distribution no longer uses its old trademark "Buena Vista". I don't know why.

I liked the sitcoms of the 50s and lot of them (“I Love Lucy” and “My Little Margie”) made fun of marriage and took it for granted. I don’t know that it works as well now. But in this latest Cinemascope caper, book publishing executive Margaret Tate (a bullying Sandra Bullock), Canadian (innocent enough) has let her work visa expire. Her nice young editor Andrew Paxton (Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds) walks into a CEO meeting (in New York) at the wrong time and gets drafted into “marrying her.”

About two-thirds of the movie takes place at the “estate” of Andrew’s family in Sitka, Alaska, where he had planned a long weekend for his grannie’s 90th birthday. The film decorates the landscape and home to look like Sarah Palin’s home as we saw it during the political campaigns last summer. Margaret finds out that Andrew has a family that really loves him, with a degree of attachment alien to her. But does the comedy that leads to the broken and then repaired marital promises really work? It sounds a bit like Mozart.

She does indeed blackmail him, at one point saying that his book will never get published and that his own writings will never get read unless he marries her. Sounds like “pay your dues” doesn’t it.

There was one other obvious plot opportunity. What if Andrew had been gay? How would the Alaska weekend have worked out then.

There was one really interesting sequence where a hawk chases Margaret and Andrew’s little dog, and picks up the dog, eventually giving the dog back in favor of Margaret’s cell phone. I didn’t know and bird would eat a dog. I think the movie could have used a cat, as well. There was another interesting image of a coin-operated Internet computer in Sitka; I once had to use one in a motel in Texas.

Attribution link for NOAA scene in SE Alaska. I visited the area in August 1980.

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