The Proposal

The Proposal


Reviewed by: Val Kermode

“It’s not as if I’m an immigrant. I’m from Canada.”

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the pushy boss of a Boston publishing company - the kind whose staff send round emails saying “The witch is coming”. Ryan Reynolds plays her assistant, Andrew Paxton. One day the immigration guys pay a visit and Margaret finds out that she has a visa problem and is about to be thrown out of the United States. Thinking on her feet, she announces that Andrew is her fiance and then proceeds to blackmail him into acceptance. An amusing start, but then sadly it’s all downhill.

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They have just the weekend to get their story straight for the sceptical immigration officer, and this weekend is to be spent at the home of Andrew’s family, celebrating the 90th birthday of his grandmother (Betty White who is, amazingly, 87). The family live in (huge joke) Alaska. Of course this involves a trip in a small bone-shaking plane and then a boat which Margaret has to board by descending a ladder in Blahniks. Andrew points out that she is a feminist, so she has to struggle with her own luggage. Could there be a little culture clash here?

It might have been interesting if Andrew had come from a normal Alaskan family, but that would have been too subtle for this kind of romcom. Instead it turns out the Paxtons own most of the businesses in town and a Bill Gates style house. Margaret, who has no relatives, begins to realise how wonderful it is to have such a caring family around.

Mary Steenburgen and Craig T Nelson play Andrew’s parents. There’s just a little grit in the father-son relationship, but most of the action centres on Mom and Gammy (Yes, they really do call this unfortunate woman Gammy.) They decide that the couple should wed “right here, tomorrow”, an unbelievable bit of plotting even by romcom standards, and Margaret is dragged off to do girl things, including a “surprise” provided by Oscar Nunez (from The Office), one of the few mildly funny episodes.

This family is so overbearing it had me shouting “Just go back to Canada!” I almost felt sympathy for the couple caught up in the middle of it. Almost. Ryan Reynolds suggests he could give a really good comic performance with better material. Sandra Bullock doesn’t. The writing here is truly awful. Margaret is told not to let the fluffy dog out, an eagle might take him. So of course that’s exactly what happens. When she says she can’t swim, it’s only a matter of time… and what was the dancing in the forest all about?

Please, Anne Fletcher, before you serve up your next “screwball comedy”, watch some old Doris Day films.

Reviewed on: 01 Jul 2009
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The Proposal packshot
In order to get leave to remain in the US, a boss bullies her assistant into agreeing to marry her.
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Read more The Proposal reviews:

Leanne McGrath ***

Director: Anne Fletcher

Writer: Pete Chiarelli

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Denis O'Hare

Year: 2009

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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