- Released Internationally on 18/06/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 05/08/09
In a nutshell
Margaret Tate is a single, powerful and rather unpleasant book editor. Andrew is her assistant – an abused and frustrated young man who’s far from home. Today, after ordering her usual morning coffee, she’s going to order him to marry her.
The devil publishes books
The film opens like a scene from The Devil Wears Prada, with the poor assistant racing through New York traffic to get their evil boss’ coffee on their desk just in time for their arrival at work. Romantic comedy regular Sandra Bullock walks primly into her high-rise office, giving Tate an aura of subtle menace and cold-heartedness. She doesn’t mind that the entire office hates her – it’s part of her job, and she’s good at it. Bending over to her every demand is the resilient Andrew (Ryan Reynolds – X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Van Wilder and most memorably TV‘s Two Guys and a Girl). He hates his job, and his family tells him to quit “every single day”. But having invested a couple of years in this nerve-racking job, he’s determined not to quit now, with a promotion and possible literary career within his grasp.
Marriage of inconvenience
Miss Tate’s march through the day is brought to an abrupt halt by the news that her work visa is about to expire, and that the company owners will have to fire her if she is deported back to her native Canada. With her slave-driving thinking cap on, she devises a cunning plan on the spur of the moment, and announces that Andrew and her are soon to wed. All he can do is look furtively around and nod in agreement.
With the authorities breathing down her neck and determined to prove that their engagement is a shambles, the unlikely couple head off to the far-flung town of Sitka, Alaska for a picturesque family weekend to celebrate the 90th birthday of his grandmother. They have a weekend to learn everything about each other, and fool family and foes into believing they’re very much in love.
Great idea, average execution
The film starts off promisingly, but once the amusing concept has been set in motion, the two talented comedic actors find themselves struggling with a poor script which darts off in tangents and feels disjointed. Penned by newcomer Pete Chiarelli, the film seems unsure of where it’s heading, and is full of lengthy, awkward scenes which add nothing to the flow of the story. One would think that the premise of the couple pretending they’re in love would provide tonnes of comedic material, but much of that potential is wasted here. Director Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses, Step Up) has vast experience as a choreographer, but only three films to her name as director, so one hopes she’s still on a learning curve.
With most of the film set in Andrew’s hometown, the citizens of Sitka colour most of the film with their charming homeliness. Mary Steenburgen (Step Brothers, Back to the Future Part III) is Andrew’s mum, whilst Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles, The Devil’s Advocate) is his sceptical dad. Betty White (Rose from The Golden Girls) is lovely and radiant as his doting grandma, but her role is brought down by an embarrassingly silly chanting scene, just as Oscar Nunez (The Italian Job, Oscar on TV’s The Office) is amusing as the multi-talented Ramone, but afflicted with a cringe-inducing dance sequence. The supporting cast is completed by Malin Akerman (Watchmen, The Heartbreak Kid) as Andrew’s childhood sweetheart and effective bad-guy Denis O’Hare (Charlie Wilson’s War, Milk) as the understandably suspicious immigration officer.
In the end
The film coughs and splutters, and very nearly stalls, but eventually arrives at its expected and natural conclusion. It’s a pity that it falls flat a few times on the way, because the silly and useless scenes are mixed up with a few marvellous comedy moments, and loads of possibility. Ultimately, it’s an average romantic comedy which allows its two stars to show their talents, but doesn’t manage to rise above the countless other similar films out there.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/touchstone/theproposal/ (High-res QuickTime)