Finding a husband in New York is tough. Even tougher? Finding a husband when you’re a powerful, socially awkward woman who’s universally hated — not to mention on the cusp of deportation. Lucky for Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), she’s got her hunky assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) who can fit the bill. Not only is he a United States native, but he’s also dedicated and malleable, as his professional fate depends on his boss’s continued reign of the publishing world.
The Proposal, which was just released on DVD, takes us on the three-day roller-coaster that follows Margaret and Andrew’s contrived engagement. The two travel to the Paxton family homestead in smalltown, Alaska, for Grandma Annie’s (Betty White) 90th birthday, ostensibly to prepare for their impending immigration exam. And guess what? Andrew’s family is loaded! And they’re really nice! (Mostly, anyway. Daddy has control issues.)
Predictably, Margaret and Andrew slog through get-to-know-you time during the next few days as they play out their charade. She may have made his life a living hell for the past three years, but that’s nothing a little bonding over bad ‘90s songs and a few helpings of vulnerability can’t fix. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Bullock and Reynolds are undeniably hot, albeit in that polished way of Hollywood perfection (Look out, Oscars. Reynolds’ gratuitous six-pack scenes are cinematographic masterpieces). We begin to see that our sexy assistant isn’t just some pushover doing Starbucks runs, and our horrific editor isn’t all Louboutins and manipulation. As their power balance shifts, so does the nature of their relationship.
The Proposal is, largely, a formulaic romantic comedy with standard plot devices including (but not limited to) the notion that opposites attract, the “fish out of water” concept and a white-haired granny whose inappropriate behavior is dismissed because, well, she’s old. (Upon meeting, Annie asks Margaret if she prefers to be called by her first name, or simply as “Satan’s mistress.”) But with familiar family tensions, great energy and some truly riotous scenes, the film manages to avoid smarmy pitfalls and instead achieves a surprisingly endearing charm.
Much of The Proposal’s compelling quality stems not only from a competent cast, but from a few quirky elements that weave through the film’s more standard pillars. Spicing up life for the Waspy Alaskans is Ramone (Oscar Nunez), who occupies myriad roles in town — the most awesome of which is best left a surprise (hint: it involves velcro pants). The film wraps all the romantic comedy around issues everyone’s faced, from tyrannical bosses to filial independence. What’s better about The Proposal than real life, though, is that in the movie, romance heals all — even the most egregious of conniving maneuvers ever conceived in the workplace.