Everyone loves Sandra Bullock. How can we not? She’s adorable and accessible and funny and beautiful and cool. Casting her as a Prada-Wearing Devil (at a publishing company, no less) was actually quite a stretch, but the manages to fill the spiky Manolos of much more plausible screen harridans. At first we just assume she said or did that horrible thing and then will feel remorse, or show some vulnerability, but no — she really, really meant it. It’s like seeing Jimmy Stewart in a Nazi uniform. So, props to Sandy for playing the movie clichÃ© harpy role that for most women paints them into an unsympathetic corner, and still coming out lovable and redeemable.
Now, this is a romantic comedy, titled The Proposal, no less — it’s impossible to spoil: the pleasure as always is in the journey. Bullock’s character’s assistant is Ryan Reynolds, an adorable, earthy, genuine fellow, compromising himself as her lackey to be able to build a base for his dream career of an editor. He’s miserable but kind, and he, of course, hates her. He knows her better than anyone, but no one knows the real her. Not even her. And the real her is Sandra Freaking Bullock. Of course there’s romance. Reynolds and Bullock have terrific hatred chemistry together and implausibly sexy, fit bodies. She is 44! I must join a gym.
Because of their intimate-but-one-sided working relationship, the requisite farce of them trying to make their sham relationship look real is funny and snarky. In fact, seeing Reynolds rise to the occasion of behaving as her peer after three years of being terrorized by her is quite delicious and even serves an unnecessary side story with his father. It’s a nice slice of evil boss revenge fantasy. These actors are so insanely lovable, of course, that they can’t help but show their characters’ likeable vulnerabilities, and it’s sweet and smileworthy.
Directed by film dancer/choreographer Anne Fletcher, and written by first-time screenwriter Pete Chiarelli, The Proposal feels both new and familiar. It’s new, in that it doesn’t obey a lot of rules of romantic comedies, while not breaking with tradition, and familiar in that it is reminiscent of some of the best romantic comedies without seeming too derivative.
Bullock and Reynolds are supported by a nice ensemble of funny faces, including Aasif Mandvi, Oscar Nunez (from The Office; a kooky treasure in this film), Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson, and previous romantic-comedy-harridan Malin Akerman. Oh, and of course the glory that is Betty White. Throw in some father-son conflict, a drizzle of Bullock’s lonely-soul-tasting-family-again-after-so-long (see: While You Were Sleeping), and a romantic family heirloom undeservedly bestowed, and you have a pleasant, charming, sweet movie to enjoy.
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 6/19/09
Time in minutes 108
Director Anne Fletcher
Studio Touchstone Pictures