The Proposal trods through territory gone over in hundreds—and maybe even thousands—of better love stories. Cookie-cutter characters inhabit a paper-thin plot while being helplessly propelled to a cliché climax.
Ryan Reynolds plays assistant to Sandra Bullock's demanding, uncompromising book editor. She says frog, he doesn't even ask how high. He just jumps. Visions of Anne Hathaway fawning over Meryl Streep's Miranda Priestly in the much better and deeper The Devil Wears Prada will come to mind.
Then the "twist." Bullock's Margaret Tate is Canadian and because of a snafu is going to be deported. Nose growing to Pinocchio proportions, Tate announces that it isn't a problem. She and Reynold's groveling assistant, Andrew Paxton are secretly engaged to be married.
Andrew goes along with the scheme because he wants her to publish his book. They fly to Alaska to break it to mom, dad and grandma. She's 13 years older so the news lands with a giant thud and sets up more predictable problems.
Why couldn't I stop laughing?
Two words: Sandra Bullock. She's a one-dimensional actress playing a game of one-up with Reynolds, an actor with a similar number of dimensions. Though possessing limited talent, Bullock does have two major positives. One, she's a terrific physical comedian with outstanding timing. And, two, she has a disarming charm that makes her impossible not to like.
Positive two fuels more flaws. Her character needs more of an edge. You never buy that Bullock is as devious this character is written. Combine her nicey-nice with Reynolds who has the personality of a marshmallow and add TV talent Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson as the parents and fabled "Golden Girl" Betty White as grandma and the territory the film treads gets thinner.
Skilled direction by 27 Dresses Anne Fletcher who zips from A to B to C and doesn't dawdle long enough for you to say, "Hey, wait a minute" to the blemishes, and a decent script from first time writer Pete Chiarelli helps.
Much is also being made of the nearly 45-year old Bullock's first nude scene. You see more nudity in some TV commercials than Bullock displays here. It's hype to sell tickets for a movie that, in spite of its defects, has enough charm to sell itself.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and brief nudity. It opens Friday, June 19 at Regal's Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie. 3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD. 2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.0 stars: Speaks for itself