The Proposal


Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Written by: Pete Chiarelli
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Malin Akerman
Released: June 18, 2009
Grade: C-

Ok, so I admit I’m not a huge fan of romantic comedies. I’ve dished out plenty of negative reviews over the years. You could say that I’m not a romantic. You could say I take these light-hearted farces too seriously. You could say that I have bad taste. I don’t care. No matter how hard I try, I cannot like a film like The Proposal. Let me tell you about it anyway…

As a chief editor at a major publishing house, Margaret Tate (Bullock) is the boss from hell. Her arrival at the office each morning sends the whole floor into a spin. Everyone tries to look busy and they all stay out of her way. It’s reminiscent of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada.

Her loyal office assistant is Andrew Paxton (Reynolds). He screens her calls, her gets her coffee every morning and he orchestrates her ever move. Margaret treats him like dirt but Andrew keeps plugging away. Why? He’s hoping that his hard work will pay off in the near future and he’ll get the promotion that he’s long been yearning for.

Out of the blue, Margaret receives notice that her visa has expired and she is to be deported back home to Canada. This isn’t good news. Her job is everything to her and has no intention of giving up both the money and the power.

What’s the answer to her problem? She asks Andrew to marry her as part of sham wedding. She can then become a U.S. citizen and a quicky divorce will immediately follow. Andrew reluctantly goes along with the crazy plan under the condition that he immediately be promoted as an editor.

As you’d expect, the immigration authorities are suspicious and are doing whatever they can to expose their relationship as a fraud. It gets worse when Andrew returns home to Alaska for the weekend, with his new fiancé in toe, and has to try to convince his family that he’s fallen in love with his overbearing boss.

It’s a ludicrous storyline and so many scenes in this film feel fake and phoney. There’s one where Margaret tries to rescue a dog from a swooping eagle. There’s another where Margaret is out in the forest with Andrew’s 90-year-old grandmother (played by Betty White) dancing around an open fire. Does anything in this film have a speck of realism?

Andrew’s ex-girlfriend (Akerman) pops into the story for no reason at all and there’s an under-explored sub-plot involving Andrew’s rocky relationship with his father (Nelson). Worst of all, there’s a schmaltzy, manipulative ending where our two leading characters show their vulnerability. Given everything that preceded the finale, I wasn’t buying it.

From an acting perspective, Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock do nothing to help the lame script. I struggled to see any chemistry whatsoever.

I went into this film with low expectations but even they couldn’t be matched. I know plenty of people who will like it but I consider it one of the year’s worst releases. End of discussion.