My Chemical Romance
By Crash Davis
I have a quick confession to make: I detest romantic comedies.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate them for the sexist reasons you think I do. That as a humanoid with external junk I can’t somehow appreciate the gynocentric porn that is Kate Hudson manipulating the shi-ite out of hipster douchebag Matthew McConaughey. (And if you are still using the term “chick flick,” for chrissakes, Stop. Throw out those Crocs while you’re at it.). I relish the idealistic notion promised by them that I, too, could end up wooing Diane Keaton in “Annie Hall.” Or pining for Mila Kunis in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Or taking a friendship with Meg Ryan to the next level in anything before 2001. But that’s the problem. Romance movies saddle us with unrealistic expectations about relationships and marriage. As I’m sure you breeders and monogamists have noticed, your Other Half ain’t exactly Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant. Your first meeting was more likely drunken roadhouse groping than lustful glances at Barney’s. Real life is more dirty diapers than pillow talk. ”Happily ever after” is frequently less of the former and more of the latter. Alas, I remain single at 40, and I don’t think Natalie Portman is going to return my calls.
Short attention span interruption: Best romantic movie of all time: “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Worst: ”Chasing Amy.” Discuss.
But I had high hopes for “The Proposal.” The industry buzz was that it surpassed the typical Harlequinesque plot structure and went for something a little grittier. Not to mention that instead of the typical May-December, Grandpa-Teenager, Sean Connery-Catherine Zeta-Jones age difference (eww), we finally get a relationship movie where the woman is older, by eleven years even (Sandra Bullock is 44 and Ryan Reynolds is 33). Plus, I get to man-crush on RyRen for 107 minutes (confession: “Definitely, Maybe” made me a little teary-eyed). High hopes.
And you know what? ”The Proposal” delivered. I was highly entertained the entire time. It was a joy to watch two highly skilled comedic actors perform at the top of their game. The premise and screenplay, of course, are Hollywood excrement. Sandra Bullock plays Margaret Tate, an Alpha-Female, She-Devil executive editor-in-chief of a book publishing company who runs the place with an iron fist. Her character is but a shameless facsimile of the role that Meryl Streep already owned in “The Devil Wears Prada,” but Sandra Bullock manages to make it her own. Her hardening but still stunning features and angular body translate well into someone who has clawed her way to the top and shut herself off from human emotion, but still reveals a glimpse or two of accessibility and vulnerability. Ryan Reynolds plays her abused and put-upon assistant, Andrew Paxton. Through a contrived set of circumstances, something about Margaret needing to get married, she’s a Canadian citizen and risks getting deported, blah blah zzzzzzzzz, the two have to get married even though, uh…
Look, the plot is stupid.
What works is that Ms. Bullock and Mr. Reynolds are a couple of funny motherf***ers and have great on-screen chemistry. The two of them spend the first two-thirds of the movie bickering at each other and the back-and-forth between them is hilarious. By this point in her career, Sandra Bullock can do physical comedy in her sleep, but her expressions, reactions and timing in her interactions with Ryan Reynolds are spot-on, and the two of them clearly had a blast making this movie (watch this hysterical clip from “Funny or Die” that the two of them made on-set with Betty White. Ryan Reynolds is, of course, Ryan Reynolds. Dude could read the phone book on-camera for an hour and I would watch. But here he further cements himself as a romantic comedy lead who can showcase heartfelt emotion in-between wisecracks. He’s definitely got movie star charisma, and fully held his own with a pro like Sandra Bullock.
The rest of the characters? Meh. Betty White, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson all play variations of the same roles they’ve played for 10+ years. Most of the comedic scenes fall flat. Just watch for the chemistry of the two leads. When they’re not in the scene together, go get a taco or something.
And see if you can get me Sandra Bullock’s phone number…
Frothygirlz rating 6/10