Being the year's best chick flick is sort of like being the world's nicest Gucci bag knockoff, an achievement, but a dubious one. Still, The Proposal is a crisp and effective exercise in rom-com construction, sticking unfailingly to the blueprint down to the last rivet. Everything is in place, squabbling good-looking singles forced to work together by an outlandish gimmick, with a quirky yet picturesque setting full of wacky friends and relatives and even a yappy little dog thrown in for good measure. Even the endless, cloying music cues are so formulaic they could probably be dropped into some other by-the-book comedy without notice.
Sandra Bullock stars as the sort of ruthless, no-prisoners ice queen that, according to Hollywood, the publishing industry is wholly comprised of. The snag in her pantyhose is a visa violation on a business trip that means she'll soon be deported back to Canada, so she instantly enlists her long-suffering assistant for a quickie sham marriage. In a nice inversion of the powerful man-secretary dynamic, he caves (Ryan Reynolds), on the condition that she mellow out a bit and you know, "Stop eating babies as they dream." The pretend-happy couple then zips off to Alaska for his grandma's 90th birthday party, where they need to put on a unified cuddle front or risk being busted by the feds.
Sandra Bullock is holding up a hell of a lot better than her fortysomething peers. Sandy looks great, she even has a peek-a-boo nude scene that gives us more than a hint of what a roughneck like Jesse James sees in her. She's also in fine comedy form and she has nice chemistry with Reynolds, who has slightly reined in his smug wise guy act, while keeping an edge.
Amusing as the stars are, the movie is so utterly predictable that some of my fellow critics were calling out plot points minutes ahead of time. Of course, the audience for this thing doesn't care about repetition, or that it's a good 20 minutes too long, they want the cinema equivalent of a Snickers bar, gooey sweet and guiltily satisfying.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.