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His Take/Her Take: The Proposal

Worth the price of admission, or a waste of time? Brian McKechnie and Suzanne Ellis offer you their take on the latest movies hitting screens. Read their reviews every week, exclusively on CityNews.ca.

Let Brian and Suzanne know what you think of His Take/Her Take via email at brian.mckechnie@citynews.ca or suzanne.ellis@citynews.ca .


Rated PG-13
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Betty White
Directed by: Anne Fletcher
Official Site IMDb

In order to keep her visa status in the U.S. (and avoid being deported back to Canada), a controlling boss forces her male assistant to marry her.

Brian’s Take

*** out of 5 stars

Maybe it’s the chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Maybe it was seeing my favourite Golden Girl Betty White onscreen again. Or maybe it’s because my expectations were so low going in. Either way, The Proposal did its job at entertaining me for an hour and forty-seven minutes.

Margaret (Sandra Bullock) is a pushy workaholic boss who finds out she is being deported back to Canada (yeah, Bullock plays the Canadian). In an effort to keep her New York job as the publisher of Colden Books she forces her young, male assistant Andrew (Ryan Reynolds in his third film this year) to marry her. In order to prove to immigration that their relationship is real they need to learn things about each other that normal couples know. Off to Alaska they go for a weekend with Andrew’s family.

Forget the story, it’s the way Bullock and Reynolds played off each other that made this movie. I’d rather watch a hundred movies with them than one with Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. Betty White was also a nice surprise as Andrew’s energetic 89 going on 90-year-old Grammie (White is actually 87). For a woman who has been acting for nearly 65 years she has not lost one ounce of wit or charm and is just as lovable in The Proposal as she was as Rose on The Golden Girls. Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen also work well as Andrew’s parents Joe and Grace.

Let’s be honest, The Proposal is not going to be winning any awards. It’s a typical, formulaic rom-com (see Green Card or The Devil Wears Prada). But, as I said, it entertained me. I laughed. And it never got overly mushy or romantic. It does suffer from some of the typical problems these films tend to have (silly situations and a predictable story). Unlike the poisonous bombs The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and New in Town, The Proposal deserves some credit for keeping the genre from totally sucking.

Suzanne’s Take

** out of 5 stars

I enjoy a cheesy rom-com as much as the next person, and I could see the potential in a Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds match-up. Both have a knack for comic timing, and are generally likeable onscreen. I went into The Proposal expecting a predictable, but otherwise entertaining, romp. Was it predictable? Yes. Was it entertaining. Sadly, no.

Bullock plays publishing house exec Margaret Tate — a nasty piece of work who’s referred to around the office as ‘it’ and ‘the witch’. Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) is her hard-done-by assistant, who’s gamely put up with her fury for three years in the hopes of being promoted to editor. When Margaret, who’s Canadian (which she admits with some disdain), finds out she’s about to be deported on account of a rejected visa application, she strong-arms Andrew into pretending they’re engaged.

A horrified Andrew goes along with it, despite the threat of prison time if their sham engagement is uncovered. So the not-so-happy couple heads to Alaska to visit Andrew’s family, mainly to learn a few pertinent facts about each other ahead of an interview by a suspicious immigration officer. And that’s when the faux begins to drop away from this faux romance.

Though it’s hard to buy Bullock as the tough-as-nails type — she’s no ‘Devil Wears Prada’-Streep — she does manage to be thoroughly unlikeable as the spinsterish Margaret. Of course once she flies to Alaska, where Andrew’s mostly-charming family lives, she chills out  — although warms up might be more appropriate — and realizes there’s more to like about her underling than the fact that he brings her her impossibly complicated Starbucks coffee order day in, day out. We’ve seen this story unfold before, and though I won’t spoil the ending for you, you’ve probably already got it figured out.

I will say this – Bullock looks fantastic, whether she’s wearing a tailored suit or an outdated wedding dress. The woman has been working out! Props to her. Of course the producers know their target audience, so we ladies get a nice shot of Ryan Reynolds’s pecs as well.

I did think the Bullock-Reynolds pairing worked, but the script didn’t capitalize on that obvious chemistry nearly as much as it could have. In fact, in many scenes the two weren’t even on screen together, perhaps to play up another element of the plot, the father-son tension between Andrew and the senior Paxton, Joe (Craig T. Nelson). This part of the story seemed tacked-on and under-developed.

Betty White provided some of the film’s biggest laughs as Grandma Annie, while Mary Steenburgen had a largely thankless role as Andrew’s mom Grace.

My proposal? Leave this film standing at the altar. You can do better.