The Proposal (2009)

Description   [from Freebase]

The Proposal is a 2009 American romantic comedy film set in Sitka, Alaska. Directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Peter Chiarelli, the film features Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as the leading roles, with Mary Steenburgen, Betty White, and Craig T. Nelson in supporting roles. The film was produced by Mandeville Films and released on June 19, 2009, in North America by Touchstone Pictures. The plot centers around a Canadian immigrant named Margaret Tate, who learns that she may face deportation charges because of her expired visa. Adamant to retain her position as executive chief, Tate convinces her assistant, Andrew Paxton, to temporarily act as her husband. Initially planning on resuming their lives after Tate resolves her visa issues, the plans are seemingly abandoned as their relationship intensifies. Development on the film began in 2005, when Chiarelli wrote the film's script. Principal filming encompassed over a period of two months from March to May 2008. Critics were polarized with The Proposal; however the interactions between Bullock and Reynolds were critically acclaimed. The film was a box office success, grossing over $317.


The Proposal

An everything-goes kind of romantic comedy that gets some mileage out of being less horrible than it should have been, The Proposal marks one major advancement for modern Hollywood: Neither Kate Hudson nor Renée Zellweger are anywhere to be seen. The shenanigans concocted by producer-turned-screenwriter Pete Chiarelli seem right up their alley, after all: Hardbitten career woman takes a break from abusing her male assistant to blackmail him into marriage (she’s Canadian, wouldn’t you know). Much zany subterfuge and the occasional Hallmark moment then follow, ensuring that her heart of ice will be melted by his warm family and sweet sweet smile.

Since the woman in question is actually played by Sandra Bullock, instead of just pouting and hair-tossing, she is actually allowed to show some fire, before it is inevitably doused by the likable, doe-eyed rouge (Ryan Reynolds, in the shoes normally filled by Matthew McConaughey) she’s playing opposite. One does have to keep those opinionated women in line, after all.

As gruesomely manipulative Taming of the Shrew scenarios go, The Proposal is right up there with the worst of them. Bullock’s fire-breathing monster of an editrix, Margaret Tate, rules her New York publishing house like a fashion-challenged Cruella De Ville, sending minions scattering like blown leaves at her merest dark-eyed glint. (Employees announce her arrival by instant-messaging, ‘It’s here!’) In comparison, Reynolds’s long-suffering executive assistant, Andrew Paxton, scurries nervously around after her, spilling coffee and getting his hopes dashed on an hourly basis. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes for the scenario to get reversed, though, once Tate realizes that she’ll have to do something drastic to keep from getting deported, and so threatens Paxton into being her green-card husband. It isn’t long after that when Paxton realizes exactly the kind of power he has in hand, spiriting Tate away to his ancestral Alaskan home and using every opportunity as payback for the years of emotional terrorism.

Once the two are in Sitka, Alaska (actually the shore of Massachusetts, doing a poor job of masquerading itself) and pretending to be engaged, the filmmakers pull out all the stops to ensure that the uppity Tate gets her comeuppance. That means there will be a male exotic dancer lunging at her, an eagle divebombing at her hair, and some naked mortification, not to mention a dance scene that’s embarrassing both for her and the Native American tribe whose ceremony it’s mocking. (Presumably, scenes of Tate stepping in manure or getting threatened by a grizzly were left on the cutting room floor.) Meanwhile, Paxton, the rich kid who swanned off to follow his literary dreams in the big city, gets to skate through it all remarkably unscathed, but for a few light head-butting moments with his broad-shouldered dad (Craig T. Nelson). To say the deck is stacked in his favor doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Were it not for the jangly screwball energy that Bullock and Reynolds are able to conjure up between the two of them, The Proposal would be just another desperate attempt to jam enough winning formula elements (potty-mouthed grandmother, cute dog, pratfalls that have already been endlessly milked by an inescapable ad campaign) into one graceless package. Between the two of them — and a couple of sharp supporting turns from Denis O’Hare (as an immigration officer weirdly obsessed with proving the marriage is a fraud) and The Office‘s Oscar Nuñez as Sitka’s most broadly-employed resident — this would-be fiasco is able to squeeze out a handful of laughs, which is sadly more than most anything starring Kate Hudson can manage these days.

The DVD includes an alternate ending, deleted scenes, gag reel, and a commentary track. A digital copy is also included.

Where’s his fat diamond?

Portions from Freebase, licensed under CC-BY and Wikipedia licensed under the GFDL