The poster is unexceptional and the trailer is generic so I had no grand expectations going into The Proposal. Anytime you see a studio romantic comedy, you pretty much know what you’re going to get: boy and girl hate each other until something happens that changes their feelings and there’s a last-minute rush to the airport to declare their love.
That’s all here, but this movie is enormously elevated by the impeccable comic timing of Sandra Bullock, still one of the most charming actresses around, even when her character is supposed to be a nightmare. She makes physical comedy look easy, including a nude mishap that I wish hadn’t been spoiled in the trailer because it’s horrifyingly funny.
Bullock’s character, Margaret Tate, is a high-powered New York City book editor who’s about to be deported to her native Canada so she blackmails her long-suffering assistant, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds), into a fake engagement. The couple then fly to Alaska to break the news to his family. They bicker until the Alaskan atmosphere ironically starts to thaw her ice-queen demeanor, they begin to see each other in a different light and…well, you know the rest.
But what you may not know is that the movie also veers into some wonderfully odd territory, like a dog-snatching eagle and an Alaska resident who inexplicably seems to have every job in town. Extra credit must be given to Oscar Nunez, normally seen as the quietly frustrated accountant on The Office, who is a revelation (literally) in this movie. He did some brave things that made me cringe and gape at the same time. Reynolds, whom I usually find to be frat-boy bland, raises his game here to keep up with Bullock.
Director Anne Fletcher directs with a light touch, encouraging uninhibited behavior from her actors. Everyone seemed to have a good time making this movie and that sense of fun should spill over onto audiences as well.
Nerd verdict: An engaging Proposal