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Monday Review: Year One and The Proposal

Say yes to 'The Proposal

If you're not a film critic and don't see every romantic comedy ever made it's often easy to assume that we're all stuck up jerks who don't like fun, love or mushy stuff. The actual case is that we all like that stuff, it's just most rom-coms are really bad, and when you see that many really bad movies in one genre you start to get a little cynical. However, The Proposal gives some hope that the rom-com can still function.

The film is like a classic piano standard played by a guy who knows the standards; there's nothing original there, but he knows what he's doing so it's fun to hear (in this case watch) anyway. The immensely unoriginal plot follows Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), who is a high-powered, stuck-up publisher Canadian working in America, and her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). Tate leaves the US illegally and thus must be deported because she isn't a citizen, because of this she pulls Andrew into a lie that they are both getting married. Of course the US government is actually going to look into stuff like that so the couple must go to Andrew's family home in Alaska and pretend they are actually getting married.

You can imagine the awkward situations that ensue pretty easily because you've probably seen a bunch of them before, but Bullock is such a pro at these types of movies and Reynolds is just so damn charming that they make the tired old stuff work perfectly well. I'm not saying this is a Sleepless in Seattle classic, but actually laughing at the jokes is always nice when you head out to a romantic comedy. Plus, adding Betty White to anything makes stuff better, though in this case some of her scenes as Andrew's grandmother fall pretty flat.

What is obvious here is that basic slapstick comedy and jokes can really work if they're delivered well and function. Two people running into each other naked is one of the easiest gags to see coming, but it works in The Proposal because its set up well and its stars look good naked. The rest of the story is as predictable as that joke with Andrew having father issues, Margaret having family issues and an awkward stripper scene featuring the hilarious Oscar Nunez from The Office in far less clothing than you actually ever wanted to see him in.

I complained about jokes getting old in my review of Year One, but The Proposal shows that some old classics can be dusted off every once in a while as long as they're delivered competently. The movie isn't going to set the world on fire with anything, but it has enough charm and wit it entertain, and, of course, make any girl go "Awwwwwww." A sound men would never make, right?

'Year One' is a zero

Have you ever heard a joke so many times that it just isn't funny anymore. It could be a really great joke that you laughed your butt off at, but now you've heard it over and over and it's just not the same. Welcome to what watching Year One is like.

The film, which chronicles the adventures of two cavemen/forest people/idiots, Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera), who leave their secluded village after being kicked out for eating forbidden fruit and stumble into some sort of chronologically destroyed Bible (not that the Bible is very chronological in the first place) in which they have to deal with a variety of "humorous" circumstances in order to save their loves, is like one long, boring punch-line you've heard a million times before. There's no meat to the film, it's just a bunch of scene slathered together to allow two comedians to perform the same roles they've been doing for their entire careers. It's even more annoying because you know that Black can do better, and that Cera can at least deliver the character he plays in every film far better than he does here.

This is Jack Black and Michael Cera doing Jack Black and Michael Cera, the problem is that that was funny about three years ago and now it's just kind of predictable and boring. What's that Jack Black? You're going to act a little crazy and talk funny? Get out! Oh, Michael Cera! How delightfully charming your inability to talk to girls is. I bet at some point in the movie you'll be stuttering a lot and the girl will just kiss you out of the blue! Goodness, how exciting.

Sarcasm as thick as anyone laughing at the majority of the jokes in the film aside, the movie pretty much fails everywhere else too. For brief instances it looks like it will shine every once in a while as a commentary on some of the more ridiculous ideas and traditions in religious beliefs, but almost every time it does the film veers straight into a poorly delivered bodily fluid joke that falls flat on its face and then lies on the floor for everyone to stare at as if if it keeps on going it might actually get funny.

What the heck happened to Harold Ramis? He use to have the directorial equivalent of perfect comedy timing, but Year One is so disjointed and poorly paced that you're never sure where it's going or when you're supposed to laugh. Some scenes just end with no punch at all and no connection to the rest of the story. Maybe he had always been given a better script (though he wrote on this one too), and thus was made to look better, because a veteran director shouldn't be making some of the mistakes he did here.

Most of the blame must rest on Black and Cera though, as they bring almost nothing to the table that is new, interesting or funny. They're not even a very good odd couple, unless you're looking for a couple that is actually odd with each other and not in the funny way. Hopefully this is a loud wake up call for everyone involved that they need to start doing something original or else the comedy crown will slip away from them. If The Hangover is any indication it actually already has.

Now I know most of you are not going to trust my opinion since I gave The Proposal a good review, but really, Year One is bad. Go see the Hangover and give it more money because it deserves it.

[Money, people. I want it so click here...please.]
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About Matthew Razakone of us since 2:04 PM on 04.03.2009

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