The best part of the movie, by far, is the cast.
If you’ve seen the trailer and at least one other romantic comedy movie ever, you can pretty much deduce what happens in The Proposal. That is not to say it doesn’t have its sweet moments and admittedly hilarious scenes, but don’t anticipate any unexpected plot twists or detours from the standard rom-com formula.
Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) is an executive assistant to Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), the editor-in-chief of a large publishing house in New York. Andrew’s dream is to be an editor, but he’s been stuck in his current position for over three years. Margaret is the boss from hell, typically referred to as "it" instead of "she" by her staff. Though she makes Andrew’s life miserable, he knows she is his ticket to a promotion to his dream position.
When Margaret suddenly finds out her visa has expired, she faces deportation back to Canada. Enter Andrew at the exact right moment. She tells her bosses that she and Andrew are engaged to be married which would ensure her U.S. citizenship. Andrew is at first totally opposed to the idea until Margaret promises him a promotion to editor, a proposal he can’t refuse. Andrew agrees to go along with the plan which involves convincing U.S. Immigration officer Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) that they are, in fact, in love and not trying to cheat the system. The consequences of defrauding the government would be automatic deportation for Margaret and five years in prison for Andrew.
In order to pass off the ruse convincingly, Andrew and Margaret fly to Andrew’s parents’ house in a small Alaskan town to get to know each other better. Here we meet his parents, Joe (Craig T. Nelson) and Grace (Mary Steenburgen), and also his grandma, Annie (Betty White), who is celebrating her 90th birthday. Though the couple can’t stand one another, they must keep up the appearance of being in love in case Mr. Gilbertson checks with Andrew’s family.
The best part of the movie, by far, is the cast. We don’t get anything new from Reynolds, but we don’t expect to. He is always hilarious and fun to watch in uncomfortable circumstances, and doesn’t fail to deliver here as well. Bullock is surprisingly, and refreshingly, colorful as Margaret, giving probably her best performance since 2005’s Crash. The part was written as an obvious rip-off of Meryl Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada, but Bullock deftly avoids any imitation of Streep and creates a wholly new she-devil boss who will make you thankful for your boss no matter how bad you think you have it.
However, White is terrific as the loving yet opinionated granny and gives every other actor master lessons on comedic timing and delivery. She easily gets the majority of the movie’s laughs and deserves them for being as energetic and dedicated as she has ever been. Her only competition for the best performance in the movie is Oscar Nuñez (from NBC’s The Office), who plays Ramone, the town’s renaissance man of sorts. Nuñez pops up several times and is absolutely hilarious throughout the movie. What could easily become an annoying and repetitive joke played by anyone else is actually one of the highlights in the hands of Nuñez.
The Proposal is funny and entertaining, exactly what you would expect from a summer comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. It isn’t the greatest romantic comedy of all time, but it’s not trying to be, which makes it even more enjoyable to watch. | Matthew F. Newlin