AWFJ Women On Film – “The Proposal” – Susan Granger reviews

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Never underestimate the pleasure of a screwball comedy, that ephemeral inspiration involving a reversal of the usual sexual roles. Thus, the woman is the arrogant, ambitious, potent personality, while the man is the self-deprecating ‘victim’ of her demands. Eventually, after a predicament, she gets ‘humbled’ as love prevails. The challenge is to find an actress who can be gleefully funny and glamorous at the same time…someone like earthy, exuberant Sandra Bullock, a master of physical farce and comic timing.

Margaret Tate (Bullock) is the romantic heroine, yet she’s clearly not someone anyone would want to be around very long. She’s a demanding, hard-nosed, high-powered book editor (shades of “The Devil Wears Prada”) whom her beleaguered assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) calls “Satan’s mistress,” describing her as “the dark overlord of my life.” Which is why he’s stunned to find himself suddenly engaged to marry her. It seems that her visa’s lapsed and when she’s threatened with deportation to her native Canada, she pretends to be engaged to him and ready to meet his family. Unbeknownst to her, the Paxtons are a wealthy, overprotective clan living in rustic Sitka, Alaska. Frustrated Andrew will only agree to the charade if Margaret promises him a promotion, but an immigration official (Denis O’Hare) is not so easily duped and frantic complications inevitably arise.

First-time screenwriter Peter Chiarelli injects delightfully sarcastic love/hate banter into the formulaic plot and predictable outcome, while choreographer-turned-director Anne Fletcher’s (“27 Dresses”) inspired casting elevates the amusement factor beyond expectations. There’s real chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds as they gamely handle the awkward embarrassment of the requisite ‘naked/wet’ scene with aplomb. The supporting cast of Malin Akerman, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, Oscar Nunez and, above all, scene-stealing TV icon Betty White as droll, just-turning-90 year-old “Grandma Annie,” oozes bucolic charm, even though Massachusetts is a lame location substitute for picturesque Alaska. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Proposal” is a laugh-out-loud, sparkly 7, offering timely, timeless fun and a fluffy puppy.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.