Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is a successful hard-driving chief-editor at a prestigious Manhattan publisher. Because of her abusive management style, she is loathed by her coworkers. Her personal assistant and aspirant editor Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) has been slaving away for her for three years without any recognition. When Margaret faces deportation back to Canada due to an expired visa, she blackmails Andrew into marrying her so she can stay in the country. In return, he would be promoted to editor and she would publish his book. Meanwhile, the skeptical clerk of the immigration department vows to test the couple’s about each other after the weekend. The couple travels to Alaska, to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of Andrew’s grandmother (the spunky Betty White) and get her to meet the family. Awkward situations ensue…
A classic Sandra Bullock vehicle, The Proposal is a textbook romantic comedy that manages to hit every possible cliches of the genre despite starting out with a refreshing premise and getting good chemistry between its two co-stars. Not only do we get the usual “lovers hate each other at first” concept, but we also get the fish out of water one with Margaret wearing heels out in the country –umm where did I see this before? To make matters even more predictable, Andrew’s family is revealed to be fabulously wealthy as it’s obviously impossible to have a Hollywood love story without a glamorous background.
Sandra Bullock is good here, even demonstrating her screwball comedy prowess, and it helps that she doesn’t play her usual lovable rom-com character but a selfish, heartless and abusive boss. When she shows up in the office in the morning, her employees all enter a state of sheer frenzied terror reminiscent of the opening sequence of The Devil Wears Prada. Opposite her, Canuck Ryan Reynolds is surprisingly just as effective and charming as Andrew. Who knows? He might finally get over the hump and become an A-list leading man in the near future. What really works for this movie is that for once, it’s nice to see the female heroin who albeit somewhat dysfunctional, is intelligent and knows exactly what she wants while the male love interest gets to actually be a three-dimensional character.
The likable duo shares substantial chemistry and is helped by a talented supporting cast including the likes of Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson and Betty White who play Andrew’s mom, dad and grandmother respectively. Unfortunately, the movie begins to unravel badly in the last 15 minutes as we get even more cliches on top of the heap including a race to the airport and a declaration of love in the middle of the office as everyone cheers. The beautiful cinematography by Oliver Stapleton has the perennial vibrant glow that is present in nearly every Hollywood rom-com these days.
Painfully formulaic and forgettable, The Proposal squanders the very good chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Nevertheless, the two co-stars keep this slightly above-average romantic comedy relatively charming and entertaining.
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Notes: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity and language, 108 minutes. A Touchstone Pictures release.