My girlfriend doesn’t understand why I watch romcoms, what with me being a chap and all (not that I watch or like every romcom; I enjoy the good ones, but can watch the bad ones as well). Even though the romcom is a total fallacy based on the chemical explosion that is the beginning of a romance (and not the rest of the many years of a real relationship), there’s something about that magical moment that cinema does very well.
As for The Proposal, it’s not a great romcom. However, what it does have is two good leads who are very good at what they do. I like Sandra Bullock, as do most reviewers, who also have the same question as me: why can’t she be in better films? She has a thoroughly likeable screen presence (and she can act – see Crash for that, or rather don’t see Crash because it’s a bit preachy) and she makes it very easy to empathise with her character and like her. And she’s good at comedy, which is important. Ryan Reynolds is a charismatic chap, he’s very handsome, and he exudes charm on screen, something evident in the first film I ever saw him in (Van Wilder: Party Liaison). He can also act (The Nines is a very good film, in which he plays three different characters) and can do comedy with ease. And they are why I saw this film.
The Proposal is a classic romcom set-up, of having the two leads in positions where there is no chance of romance but circumstance compels them together and they find feelings for each other. But the comedy isn’t very strong – there are some good lines, such as the ‘It’s morning’ gag – but there’s a lot of weak stuff, like Bullock doing an expressive dance with the grandmother, or the cheap silliness of local handyman being the male stripper in the bar. The romance isn’t particularly believable (although kudos for mocking the ‘race to the airport to declare love’ denouement of many romcoms) but the two leads sell the film, sparking off each other when given the opportunity (and physically sparking off each other in one scene where they bump into each other naked) and they make you want them to be together.
I accidentally saw this on preview night in the cinema (which at least meant there weren’t any adverts), so I saw this with an audience of mostly women who seemed to enjoy The Proposal (it was Bullock’s highest earning film for 10 years); however, it’s not a classic that’s going to stand the test of ages. There were some good bits, and I was happy for the fact that it has an older woman/younger man relationship that’s believable (Bullock is 10 years older than Reynolds), and any film that has a romantic bonding moment over the rap song It Takes Two by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock can’t be all bad.