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Vol. LXIII, No. 25
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

SON, WHAT REALLY ARE YOUR INTENTIONS TOWARDS MARGARET: Joe Paxton (Craig T. Nelson, left) confronts his son Andrew (Ryan Reynolds) with his suspicions that Andrew does not really intend to marry his boss Margaret (not shown) and is only pretending to be engaged to her so that she will not be deported to Canada and thereby lose her high powered job as a publishing executive.

The Proposal: Bullock and Reynolds Feign Romance in Screwball Comedy

Kam Williams

Ambitious New York City publishing executive Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) has been too busy clawing her way to the top of the corporate ladder to pay attention to anything but her career. The pampered narcissist delegates what she considers trivial matters, such as buying personal drugstore sundries, to her long suffering secretary, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds). In fact, Margaret is so busy that the Canadian citizen has been ignoring repeated requests from the U.S. government to renew her work visa.

However, the immigration department gets her attention the day that an Immigration Agent (Denis O’Hare) shows up at the office armed with a deportation order. When Margaret’s boss (Michael Nouri) tells her that she’ll lose her job if she’s kicked out of the country, the quick thinking businesswoman blurts out that the problem’s already been resolved because she and Andrew are engaged to be married. Not convinced that they’re really engaged, the investigator warns the couple that he’ll be monitoring their movements, and that they’ll be headed to prison if they’re lying.

Although Andrew hates Margaret because she has made his life miserable for the past three years, he promises to keep up the charade on the condition that she promote him to editor and publish his first book. She grudgingly agrees and, to keep up appearances, agrees to accompany her faux fiancé on a trip to his hometown of Sitka, Alaska to attend his Grandma Annie’s (Betty White) 90th birthday celebration.

This sets the scene for the madcap shenanigans which ensue in The Proposal, a delightfully screwball comedy directed by Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses).

Don’t be turned off by the plot, which superficially resembles the hackneyed TV sitcom where a big secret is kept hidden until right before the finale.

In the movie, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds generate such chemistry, that it’s easy to forgive the familiarity of the formulaic plot. Bullock proves herself perfectly comfortable about being the butt of the joke in her best film since Miss Congeniality.

Most of the action unfolds in Sitka, a tight-knit community brimming with a colorful assortment of local characters including a grocery clerk who moonlights as a male stripper (Oscar Nunez). Everybody in Sitka wants to know whether Andrew’s intentions towards Margaret are honorable: such as his parents (Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson), who would prefer that their son return home to take over the family business; his eccentric granny who’s always pressuring him to prove his love for Margaret by exhibiting public displays of affection; and his former next door neighbor Gertrude (Malin Akerman), who still has feelings for her high school sweetheart. Then there’s that annoying little bureaucrat from Immigration who pops up when you least expect it.

In order not to arouse any suspicions, Andrew and Margaret find themselves in increasingly intimate compromising situations. The plot thickens when his parents arrange for an impromptu wedding that very weekend.

Will the guests be singing “Here comes the bribe” or “Here comes the bride.”

That depends on whether Andrew and Margaret either ’fess up, follow through with the sham, or really fall in love.

A movie that is reminiscent of the best films of Doris Day and Rock Hudson.

Excellent (4 stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity, nudity and sexuality. Running time: 107 minutes. Studio: Walt Disney.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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