Director: Anne Fletcher
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Betty White, Craig T Nelson, Oscar Nunez
While watching the effortlessly predictable The Proposal, I realised that it’s not only Bollywood, which is capable of lifting story ideas and churning out inane and illogical romantic comedies. In fact, Hollywood does it in a much better and shameless way at that. In disbelief? Catch Anne Fletcher’s latest offering. Not a single strand of this film’s plot has something that you haven’t seen before. Right from drab predicaments that put the characters through (un)expected circumstances to sudden realisation of cupid striking, The Proposal has a tailor-made setting with characters and sequences that you have encountered in a thousand other rom-coms.
Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock), the chief editor at one of New York’s leading book publishing houses, is a hard task master to the extent that her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) has named her ‘The Devil’s Mistress’. No guesses there for the most inapt impersonation of Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. Margaret is a Canadian whose American visa suddenly expires one fine day and to save herself from getting deported, she cooks up an instant marriage pretence with Andrew. Yawn! Andrew sees the prospect of promotion to the editor’s post and getting his manuscript published --- a long awaited dream and ambition --- through this deal and agrees. The two fly to Andrew’s hometown, Sitka in Alaska, over the weekend where his family is waiting to welcome the 'under pretence' couple. What happens next doesn’t even need a pinch of grey matter to figure out!
Apart from the most important and driving aspect, romance, what a story like this lacks is a proper portrayal of relationships and emotions. The plot very well offers scope to explore an interesting love-hate relationship between a father and son but unfortunately Fletcher just touches upon that and leaves Andrew and Joe’s (Craig T Nelson) differences on an abrupt note. There is zero chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds. Again thanks to Fletcher, who probably didn’t find it necessary to shape up their love angle. Also, despite having an impressive star cast, most of the actors, including the amiable Mary Steenburgen as Andrew’s mother, are wasted. As for the comedy, scenes like a nude Margaret and Andrew falling over each other are expected to generate laughs. Though they do, it’s more corny than funny. The only one providing comic relief is Betty White as Andrew’s uber cool 'gammy' Annie. With her cute hysterics, she makes all the déjà vu moments in this film watchable one more time.
Sitka, especially Andrew’s mansion like house, is shot beautifully. Bullock and Reynolds play their parts sincerely, the former over doing it a bit in a few places. But even good performances doesn’t help an utterly predictable and uninteresting proposal as this!