The Proposal

Starring: Starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Akerman, Mary Steenburgen, Oscar Nunez, and Craig T. Nelson. Directed by Anne Fletcher.
107 mins.
Genre: Romantic comedy
Rating: Rated PG (mild coarse language and sexual references).

In this entertaining and comic film, Sandra Bullock plays the role of Margaret Tate, the Editor-in-chief of a book-publishing company, and she is responsible for a work environment that makes it almost impossibly difficult for anyone who unluckily happens to work for her. Her visa is running out, and word comes through that she is going to be deported to Canada. To avoid the deportation order, she proposes that she marries her unsuspecting assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). Andrew is intimidated by his boss, and has been tormented by her for some time. His job is now at risk, and he accepts the proposal to protect his position, but also because he has eventual ambitions to be editor in Margaret’s place. This is a marriage of convenience, and it naturally arouses the suspicions of the Immigration Department, which decides to investigate. Andrew sets his own conditions on the union and both of them find themselves spending a weekend together with his family in Alaska to try to make their togetherness look legitimate. This is classical romantic comedy, and a typical theme for such plots is that when two people start to spend time together, they also start to fall in love, with perfectly predictable results. However, the film offers  more than that. 

The comedy that works in this movie doesn’t flow entirely from two people, who eventually find themselves attracted to each other, but also from what ensues when two incompatible persons have to struggle to adapt to each other, when neither likes doing so. Margaret, as the determined professional, who has terrorized those in her office for years, has been ambitious, domineering and selfish, and now she has to shed these attributes in order to cope with Andrew’s family, which provides its own attractive brand of humanity. She finds herself in a very different environment than what she is used to, and has to cope as best she can veering from one difficult situation to another. This film has Bullock returning to comedy after some time, and she and Reynolds work very well together. The “Miss Congeniality” skills of Bullock are back again, and there is under-stated chemistry between her and Reynolds on the screen. Together, they create some funny situations, with the help of a whole host of warm family characters around them. Malin Akerman, Mary Steenburgen, and Craig Nelson are Andrew’s immediate family, and they provide an excellent foil to a controlling Margaret, whose previous practices no longer work or are effective.

This is a film with a predictable plot which finds his comic moments away from the main story-line. It is the comic interaction of the characters that provides the real entertainment for the movie, and Anne Fletcher directs the movie with style and consciousness of where good moments lie. Oscar Nunez manages to pull off the dual role of being a marriage celebrant and an overweight male stripper with a great deal of likeability. As with most movies of its kind, this film goes sentimental towards the end, and the rolling credits at the finish seem to be scripted oddly by someone who hasn’t entirely understood the movie that went before, but the film is a smooth, well-paced comedy that works well with some sharp, witty dialogue thrown in to help.

This movie is not a deep one, but it is entertaining and very watchable nevertheless, and there are some bright cameo-like performances that help enormously to strengthen its comic appeal.


Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

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