Rom-Com Review: "The Proposal"

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Rating: PG-13
Length: 108 minutes
Release Date: June 19, 2009
Directed by: Annie Fletcher
Genre: Romance / Comedy / Drama

Starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, "The Proposal" is a romantic comedy released in 2009 that can run along the lines of predictable. However, its charming dialogue is refreshing, and the film takes a different approach to the "tough female boss" trope and turns it into something a little sweeter. While the film won't win any awards, Bullock and Reynolds play off of each other in a way that makes the film incredibly entertaining and sweet.

Bullock plays the role of Margaret Tate, a tough editor in a high-profile New York publishing office, and Reynolds co-stars as her assistant, Andrew Paxton. He's slaved away under her editorial rule for three years, cancelling countless family holidays and vacations in order to rise up in the ranks. When Margaret, a Canadian, is called into a meeting to discuss the terms of her work visa, she comes up with a plan to marry Andrew in order to avoid deportation. Andrew agrees only on the terms that he receive a promotion.

The two must pass a skeptical INS agent's test in order to save Margaret from deportation, and Andrew and Margaret fly to Andrew's home of Sitka, Alaska, for his grandmother's 90th birthday. With tension between Andrew and his father at an all-time high, Andrew and Margaret must convince the family—and the INS agent—that they're well and truly happy and ready to get married.

The environments of the movie are very well done, and the scenes are well-executed. The scenes set in Alaska were actually filmed in Boston, but they're so immersive and detailed that it's difficult to tell aside from a few familiar Bostonian landmarks. The choice of locations for each scene is remarkable in that even New York City looks like something out of a storybook. The family home in Alaska is beautifully done and really speaks of Andrew's background and community through its connectedness.

The acting really steals the show, however. Bullock and Reynolds do wonderfully in their respective roles, but when the two are together, their chemistry and the way they play off of each other is almost magical. The humor is non-stop, even in the tensest scenes. The dialogue shifts from snarky to endearing in smooth transitions that make the relationship between Bullock and Reynolds feel even more real to watchers. Likewise, once Bullock starts to see her moral dilemma as she gets to know Andrew's family, viewers can really connect with how she's feeling through her acting. Reynolds's tension and relationship with his family is also extremely relatable, making the dialogue and overall feel of the film even more personable.

The plot of the movie contains some typical romantic comedy clichés, and the film itself is certainly nothing groundbreaking. However, the characters, including Andrew's grandmother (played by Betty White) are entertaining to watch. Many viewers know the story just by watching the previews and trailers, but no one really cares — the movie is so well done in terms of its script and acting that watching the scenes unfold is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

Some viewers may find that the plot slows down considerably once Andrew and Margaret begin the journey back to Andrew's family home in Alaska. Many have said that the first 45 minutes of the film are the best, and that once the pair arrives in Alaska, things start to slow down. Likewise, the ending may leave something be desired in terms of having a satisfying resolution. For many, it feels like the scenes leading up to the ending are the true climax of the film and leave the last scene to fall a bit flat.

However, despite its limited shortcomings, "The Proposal" is still extremely entertaining to watch and should not be missed. A romantic comedy that delivers an interesting take on the Doris Day character and has an all-star cast that delivers nothing but humor and talent, "The Proposal" is appropriate for ages 13 and up; there's limited nudity and occasional adult language.

Even though "The Proposal" may be somewhat unoriginal and carry a lot of the typical clichés of a romantic comedy, its strength comes from the chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds even after the first 45 minutes. The humor is non-stop, and the dialogue delivers a lot of emotion and depth even in the snarkiest moments. The aesthetics of the film are also intensely pleasing; not only are the actors themselves a joy to look at, the scenery and choice of location are also wonderfully done. "The Proposal" is a film that anyone needing a good pick-me-up should see.