THE PROPOSAL

IT’S TIME TO RENEW OUR VOWS

RETROSPECTIVE REVIEW
By Lisianne Chan
10th June 2024

There was a time when Sandra Bullock ruled the rom-com and Ryan Reynolds (the actor) played characters who were not just Ryan Reynolds (the person). 15 years ago, these two eras gloriously collided to bring us 'The Proposal'.

In the film, Bullock ('The Lost City', 'Miss Congeniality') plays Margaret, a no-nonsense book editor whose words are law on the office floor. She promptly fires a man who attempts to usurp her reign and holds the workplace nickname "Witch" amongst the employees. When Margaret finds herself in trouble with the actual law and in danger of being deported to Canada, her solution is simple: demand her assistant Andrew (Reynolds, 'IF', 'Free Guy') marry her for a green card.

'THE PROPOSAL' TRAILER

With Andrew negotiating career perks in exchange for defrauding the U.S. immigration system and potentially facing federal prison, the pair are officially engaged. Yay! Off they go to Sitka, Alaska, to see Andrew's family for the weekend while immigration agent Gilbertson (Denis O'Hare, TV's'True Blood') is determined to prove their relationship a sham when they return.

I've written a little about what I think makes a rom-com good and bad when reviewing 'Anyone But You'. In essence, I don't believe that shoving an abundance of tropes into a rom-com automatically makes it bad. A core pillar of the rom-com genre is the faithful use of tropes - yes, even if they dabble into cliché. 'The Proposal' is no stranger to this rom-com recipe, with the couple thrown into every classic scenario you can think of.

However, the special element that makes 'The Proposal' a memorable film 15 years later is the chemistry between Bullock and Reynolds. With a long list of rom-com tropes penned by Peter Chiarelli ('Now You See Me 2', 'Crazy Rich Asians'), the pair bring life to Andrew and Margaret's romance with perfect comedic timing. This is the factor that makes or breaks a rom-com, and 'The Proposal' passes the chemistry test with flying colours. I cannot mention chemistry and comedic timing without also highlighting Betty White (TV's 'The Golden Girls'), who plays Andrew's cheeky grandmother Annie. Her presence in the film is an absolute scene-stealer, and her antics are often the catalyst that pushes Andrew and Margaret's relationship to develop.

A core pillar of the rom-com genre is the faithful use of tropes - yes, even if they dabble into cliché. 'The Proposal' is no stranger to this rom-com recipe, with the couple thrown into every classic scenario you can think of.

The charm of 'The Proposal' lies ultimately in Bullock's portrayal of Margaret, who is the true heart of the film. Most of the film's most memorable scenes can be attributed to her. Do they involve negotiating with an eagle and shaking arse in a forest with Betty White? Maybe...

Revisiting 'The Proposal' for its 15th anniversary was an absolute delight. While it does not take any creative leaps, it certainly makes up by earnestly ensuring the tried-and-tested romcom tropes are made entertaining. If Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock proposed a joint return to the rom-com, you bet I'd be saying yes.

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