The Proposal is a quaint little rom-com starring Bullock as Margaret Tate, editor-in-chief of a prestigious New York publishing house. Margaret – an icy, take-no-baloney Toronto girl – has her feathers ruffled when her US working visa is rejected by the immigration services. With her hard-won career on the line, she ropes in her assistant, the idealistic Andrew (Reynolds) into a fraudulent marriage. One problem, they hate each others guts – and with city-slicker Margaret whisked off to leafy Alaska to meet Andrew's family, it's a situation ripe with comic potential.
The film bears its generic, conventional tropes with no guilt; this is pleasant, boil-in-a-bag stuff. It is with this in mind that The Proposal often rises above mediocrity, but fails to leave a lasting impression by the finish. Its opening act, a fast-talking, pantomimic encapsulation of the publishing business, gives its competent leads the space to play off each other. Bullock and Reynolds, both far too likeable for their roles to be more than one dimensional, still work up an amiable chemistry with their tight comic timing. The office environment is full of breathless gossip, with hasty IM messages bouncing around from computer to computer – giving the proceedings a jolly momentum.
However, once the action moves north, these quirks, and the efforts of a strong supporting cast, get buried in overwrought sentimentalism and heavy-handed comedy set pieces. Of course, romance blossoms between the two, but not before Margaret is led through a gauntlet of groan-inducing physical routines – one featuring a dog, another nudity, and another a stripper. Over time, her frozen heart is thawed by Andrew's teeth-rottingly sweet family, but the appearance of an overzealous immigration officer (O'Hare), puts a spanner in the works. Safe to say, all works out well in the end, proving that love and romance can't help but obey the demands of narrative. The Proposal may not be an offensive flick, but it's still utter bubblegum.