I have an odd love/hate relationship with Sandra Bullock. I think her comedic timing and humor are quite excellent. But the projects she does are, well, it’s not that they’re just extremely low-brow, it’s that they’re mostly just insulting. It was refreshing to see her take a small, but not self-important role in the wildly overrated Crash of 2005, but she quickly burned through any credibility that that film might have garnered her by following it up with projects like Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, and Premonition. Not many even took the time to see her critically-acclaimed Infamous (in her defense, it was insanely overshadowed by Capote). After a three year break, she’s finally back on the big screen, and unfortunately, she’s up to her old tricks: shitty romantic comedies.
The Proposal‘s premise isn’t difficult. Margaret Tate (Bullock) is a successful book editor at a large book publisher in New York. She doesn’t smile, she’s constantly at the mercy of her BlackBerry, has no empathy for co-workers, and no personal life to speak off. She’s made a whipping boy out of her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), who adheres to her every whim. A visa issue (Margaret is Canadian) forces her to bribe Andrew into marrying her (hence the film’s unimaginative tag line: Here comes the bribe). Margaret and Andrew fly to a quaint Alaskan town to tell Andrew’s parents, where she’s stripped of her extremely high heels, cell phone, and is meant to regain that feminine humanity she was forced to lose by becoming a successful business woman.
The messages in the movie are more than a little offensive. Women: you can’t be successful and keep any amount of normality. Men: beware women in positions of power, you’ll have to break their spirits in order to get into bed with them. But worse than being offensive, The Proposal just isn’t funny. Bullock (who received an executive producer credit on the project) manages to do what she can with the mind-numbingly ridiculous script (penned by seeming misogynist Pete Chiarelli). Reynolds, whom I frequently find funny, was so bogged down by the dialogue, he seemed to be as uninterested in the film as I was, mostly there as a prop, rather than an actor. Betty White plays Andrew’s grandma, and couldn’t manage to pull a laugh from the audience at any cost. The whole mess is directed by Anne Fletcher who’s last project was the annoying 27 Dresses. Before that, it was Step Up. Good lord, who keeps giving her a budget? Fletcher may have mastered pandering to thirteen year-olds, but she seems to have really found her niche in unfunny cliches and stereotypes.