Ryan Reynolds’ performance in ‘The Proposal’ offers a mix of humor and heart, with details that resonate more deeply as you mature

Watching The Proposal as a young viewer, you likely found the slapstick humor and romance thoroughly entertaining.

However, revisiting the film as an adult offers an entirely new appreciation for Ryan Reynolds’ comedic talent and the early signs of his trademark wit. Now, you may gain fresh insight into the subtle complexities of his character, the social commentary woven into the story, and the emergence of qualities that would later define Deadpool.

Let’s examine some standout aspects of Reynolds’ performance that take on new meaning when viewed through a mature, nuanced lens:

A Vulnerable Heart Beneath the Sarcasm

As a young viewer, Andrew’s sharp sarcasm probably had you in stitches. Every acerbic comeback at his boss’ expense landed perfectly. But peer beneath the dry, cynical veneer as an adult, and you’ll discover incredible emotional intelligence and vulnerability.

During tender moments with Margaret, Reynolds exposes the uncertainty and sensitivity behind the wisecracks. A subtle creasing of the eyes or parting of the lips displays volumes more than dialogue can convey. This blossoming affection for his boss, despite their convoluted situation, reveals a yearning for human connection. Here we catch early glimpses of the heart Reynolds would later embody for Deadpool.

Upon rewatching, you may find Andrew’s emotional availability far more compelling than any slick, comedic bout. His fiery defense of Margaret at the immigration interview unveils a touching depth of loyalty. And when she sacrifices her hopes of citizenship for his dream writing job, Reynolds’ gentle gaze and grace highlights Andrew’s compassion.

Beneath the laughs lies an intelligent performer engaging the full spectrum of human emotion at a refined level rarely recognized in comedy. Reynolds’ ability to ground absurd scenarios in emotional realism heightens the hilarity without losing its heart.

A Struggling Artist Yearning for Purpose

Remember chuckling at Andrew’s farcical life story during the immigration interview? The malaise of a wayward Alaskan teen turned underappreciated assistant seems ripe for parody.

But reexamining Reynolds’ performance through an adult lens reveals the aching dreams of a struggling artist. Notice Andrew’s longing glances at the writers celebrating in the office. Though played for laughs, his face exposes genuine anguish. As a young viewer, you likely didn’t grasp the profound sadness of unfulfilled potential.

When Andrew ultimately lands his dream writing job, Reynolds rewards us with a beautiful, wordless scene. Watch his eyes when Margaret gifts the coveted position, and you witness years of repressed creative passion finally finding an outlet. The power of this moment transcends dialogue, allowing Reynolds to move us through expression alone.

Here, Reynolds lays the foundation for the satirical, fourth-wall-shattering comedy that would one day become his trademark. But beneath Deadpool’s madness lies the all-too-human insecurity of not reaching one’s artistic potential. Reynolds imbues his comedy with this palpable pathos in both roles, albeit through wildly different characters.

Societal Commentary With A Comedic Twist

Intentional or not, The Proposal tackles issues of immigration, workplace dynamics, and gender roles. Though played primarily for laughs, Reynolds’ performance offers insightful social commentary when viewed more critically.

Navigating the immigration process provides hilarious situational comedy ripe for Reynolds’ talents. But it also reveals the prevalence of marriage fraud, the complexities of attaining citizenship, and the overreach of government bureaucracy. Reynolds humanizes these issues, using comedy as a conduit for understanding.

Additionally, Reynolds exposes ingrained power dynamics between bosses and assistants that often get overlooked. Though exaggerated for entertainment value, his role highlights real professional struggles faced by young creatives. Navigating unreasonable demands, suppressed ambitions, and poor work-life balance are issues many young professionals encounter. Reynolds hints at the societal pressures to relentlessly grind in exchange for career advancement.

Finally, Margaret’s authority over Andrew satirizes traditional gender roles regarding women in high-powered positions. Reynolds leaning into absurd subservience helps reveal the subtle gender biases women face in leadership. Though framed through humor, Reynolds’ performance highlights important workplace realities.

Comedy has a marvelous ability to subtly spotlight societal issues when done skillfully. Though played for amusement on the surface, Reynolds and the script incorporate deeper themes that resonate more profoundly when given closer inspection.

Glimpses of Future Greatness in Deadpool

When reflecting on Reynolds’ career evolution, it’s fascinating to see early traces of Deadpool in this performance. Subtle fourth wall breaks and off-beat comedic timing offer mere hints of what was to come. But they demonstrate Reynolds already toying with conventions and developing his signature style.

Keep your eyes peeled for quick moments when Reynolds peers knowingly at the viewer. Brief as they may be, these direct addresses would later become trademark Deadpool. Reynolds clearly relishes the impropriety of acknowledging the audience, playfully hinting he knows this is all fiction.

Additionally, listen closely to the cadence and delivery of Reynolds’ dialogue for flashes of unconventional comedic rhythm. He masterfully handles the clever script, yet injects odd pauses between sentences or emphasizes unexpected words. These small creative choices suggest Reynolds already experimenting with the tightrope walk of comedy—guiding viewers exactly where he wants them.

Such bold, avant-garde techniques obviously wouldn’t fit Andrew’s character or this genre. But Reynolds incorporates traces that astute viewers can spot in retrospect. Like an athlete trying unconventional moves in practice, Reynolds uses this film to expand his skills for even wilder future roles.

The Total Package

Returning to The Proposal years later, whether you caught these layers before or not, it’s clear Ryan Reynolds demonstrated immense talents right from the start. His versatility, emotional depth, quick wit, and subtle magnetism shine despite the limited role. And he injects enough innovation even within conventions to showcase his creative instincts.

But perhaps most importantly, Reynolds’ ability to squeeze such heart and humor from this ludicrous plot reveals his invaluable intangibles. That special quality that makes him a joy to watch regardless of the material. The infectious charisma that oozes off the screen. That matchless combination of physical and verbal dexterity with bottomless pathos always bubbling under the surface.

These gifts are what allow Reynolds to elevate slapstick blockbusters and raunchy comedies into beloved cultural touchstones decade after decade. The Proposal offers mere glimpses of the well he draws this magic from. And revisiting it from an adult perspective allows us to appreciate the foundation of his brilliance before superstardom.


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