What does a Canadian editor-in-chief at a publishing house do if she is facing deportation? Marry her sexy American assistant, of course. So begins the ridiculous premise to director Anne Fletcher’s newest romantic comedy, The Proposal, which stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as the masochistic lovebirds. Fletcher, who brought audiences 27 Dresses and Step Up thus establishing a track record of unparalleled sub-mediocrity), brings us another pityingly predictable love story.
After working three years for Margaret (Bullock), a Type-A uppity control freak, and hating every minute of it, Andrew (Reynolds) decides to marry her so she can keep her job and he can, thereby, keep his. The newly engaged couple travels to Alaska for a 90th birthday party for his grandmother (Betty White) in order to keep up the ruse for Mr. Gilbertson, the immigration officer (Denis O’Hare) set on exposing them. Mr. Gilbertson informs Andrew that he risks $250,000 in fines and five years in prison. Andrew is undeterred: Clearly, facing jail time is nothing compared to the fear of being jobless in this economy. Nonetheless, Andrew and Margaret persevere with their scheme. And wouldn’t you know it, a weekend with Andrew’s family warms Margaret’s frozen heart, completely revolutionizing her outlook on life and her misguided values. Still, there are several moments of broad comedy, however, that may amuse some viewers, as when Oscar Nuñez performs a bachelorette striptease, or when Betty White feels up Bullock’s breasts, or the accidental naked encounter between Bullock and Reynolds. Although some of this shtick succeeds, the film fails to bring something truly original and clever, which is the crux of the problem for the entire film. It’s hard to dislike Bullock in any role that she plays, and Reynolds brings ample sex appeal, but in this film their chemistry is forced and unbelievable—a problem that seems to run deeper than being merely a function of their 12-year age difference. (Bullock, by the way, puts women half her age to shame by nearly baring all). After such recent comic dreck as Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous and Two Weeks Notice, one wishes that Bullock would give up this genre and return to more dramatic roles of the sort that she excelled at in Crash and 28 Days. Here’s a proposal: Skip this film and use your money to rent While You Were Sleeping, the romance that solidified her as a leading lady 15 years ago and remains one of her best.