Every so often a romantic comedy will come out that is predictable, cliche-driven, and awkward yet it will save itself from being what in my mind would be a bad movie. The Proposal is one of those movies. The plot is something you’ve seen before with a little twist, you know how it will end, and none of the characters seem to connect on an emotional level. Yet what makes The Proposal enjoyable along with other not-quite-bad-not-quite-good rom coms such as Along Came Polly or Guess Who is the fact that the audience can connect to the situations the characters find themselves in because they are so familiar. Perhaps as a society we’ve come to expect our romantic comedies to all be predictable.¬†Deviating from this…lazy writing, if you will allow me to call it such, would only compromise this connection. Therefore, The Proposal is exactly like any other romantic comedy, and if you like romantic comedies, chances are you will like this one too.

Synopsis: Margaret Tate is the a middle-aged editor of a large New York-based publisher. She has lived most of her life without a family and as a result is not what you would call a people person. Andrew Paxton is Margaret’s overworked assistant, desperate to make it big and eventually become editor himself. When Margaret, a citizen of Canada, learns that her visa will not be renewed, she has to leave the country and her job. Desperate to stay in charge, Margaret blackmails Andrew to marry her or she will fire him. In order for it to be legal, the new couple has to pass a test confirming that their relationship is real and not fraudulent. This involves meeting Andrew’s family, who live in Alaska. But when Margaret begins to remember what its like to have a family again, can she find it in herself to go forward with her plan and destroy Andrew’s life forever, or do the right thing and confess the fraudulent arrangement and be deported?

Acting: Okay (17/25)

  • Sandra Bullock as Margaret Tate: Okay – Although Bullock is as charming and enduring as ever, she doesn’t seem to be able to portrait the intimidation aspect that Tate’s coworkers all claim to fear.
  • Ryan Reynolds as Andrew Paxton: Good – Ryan Reynolds is fun to watch and seems like he would be a good fit for a comedy movie, but of all the characters that I’ve seen him in, this one was my least favorite. He seemed intimidated by Bullock, there was little chemistry between them.
  • Mary Steenburgen as Grace Paxton: Good – Sincere and down-to-earth as always.
  • Craig T Nelson as Joe Paxton: Okay – He never really relayed the difficulties in the relationship with his son well enough to the audience to make the conflict seem anything more than just an unnecessary side excursion.
  • Supporting Cast: Good – Betty White shines as the funniest part of the movie, and other character actors make the movie enjoyable.

Script/Plot: Okay (18/25)

  • Dialogue: Good – The dialogue is what drives this movie, more than the characters or plot. The more serious moments feature the best exchanges between characters, and make the movie worth watching more so than any of the comedy bits.
  • Script: Good – A few slapstick moments dumb it down a little, but the clever twists and new ways in which it presents the audience with familiar situations are worth noting.
  • Plot: Okay – You pretty much know what is going to happen, and even if the plot takes a few slight bends its not pushing any boundaries.
  • Themes/Messages: Okay – While the movie highlights the importance of family and following your heart, it also unfortunately seems to promote (not on purpose) the importance of success over family. Both Andrew and Margaret are equally as guilty of putting themselves before others and the movie does not address any of this.

Direction: Okay (19/25)

  • Professionalism: Okay – Director Anne Fletcher isn’t creating any sort of movie art here, but you don’t really expect that anyway. Almost all of the movie is filmed without any sort of establishing scenes, and this means there is virtually no tone. Only when the movie moves to Alaska does the audience become aware that the world consists of more things besides the main characters.
  • Flow: Bad – The movie never really lulls, but it does seem to go faster than it should. In other rom coms you get a few scenes where you can really feel the connection between the main man and main gal, but in this movie there is only one scene where this kind of happens, and from it we are to assume that they fell in love. Its almost as if the movie assumes you know how it all works and forgoes the sappy stuff for more slapstick.
  • Editing: Good – The movie is edited well to transition between different perspectives during otherwise mundane scenes, but again nothing extraordinary here.

X-Factor/Miscellaneous :  Good (21/25)

  • Effects/Scenery: Okay– While the excellent Alaska background is not really taken advantage of, the small town the story mostly takes place in is bright and cheery and inviting.
  • Music: Good -Funny, charming, and enhances the mood.
  • X-Factor: Good – Yes, it is just another rom com, but it is charming, more so from the individual personalities of Bullock, White, and Reynolds, than from any connection of their characters.

The Verdict: (75/100) = C

  • What’s Good? The actors themselves don’t necessarily disappoint, and the story is fun to watch and at times actually funny.

  • What’s Bad? It is predictable, driven by lots of slapstick, lacking charisma between characters, and not entirely cutting edge as far as plot, direction, or character development are concerned.
  • Summary: The latest model off the rom com assembly line.

My previous review: Rated: Quantum of Solace (2008)