Ambitious, NYC publishing executive Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) has been too busy clawing her way to the top of the corporate ladder to pay attention to anything but her career. In fact, the pampered narcissist tends to delegate what she considers trivial matters such as making "midnight Tampax runs" to her long-suffering secretary, Andrew (Ryan Reynolds). This is why the Canadian national has also been ignoring repeated requests from the U.S. government to renew her work visa.
But that oversight comes back to bite her the day a nosy Immigration Agent (Denis O'Hare) shows up at the office armed with a deportation order. When informed by her boss (Michael Nouri) that she'll lose her job if she's kicked out of the country, the quick-thinking businesswoman blurts out that the problem's already been resolved because she and Andrew are engaged to be married. Not convinced that their story's legit, the investigator warns the pair that he'll be monitoring their movements, and that they'll be headed to prison if it turns out they're lying.
Although Andrew actually hates Margaret who has been the bane of his existence for the past three years, he promises to keep up the charade on the condition that she promotes him to editor and publishes his first book. She grudgingly agrees and, to keep up appearances, resigns herself to accompanying her faux fiancé on a trip to his hometown of Sitka, Alaska to attend his Grandma Annie's (Betty White) 90th birthday celebration.
Thus, the table is set for the madcap shenanigans which ensue in "The Proposal," a delightful screwball comedy directed by Anne Fletcher ("27 Dresses").
Don't be turned off by the contrived storyline, which reads superficially like that hackneyed TV sitcom scenario where a big secret is kept hidden until revealed and predictably resolved right before the finale.
In this case, Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds generate such chemistry by throwing themselves into their roles with abandon that it's easy to forgive the familiarity of the formula. Bullock, playing a character ostensibly-inspired by Meryl Streep's witchy Miranda Priestly of "The Devil Wears Prada" fame, again proves herself perfectly comfortable being the butt of the joke in her best outing since "Miss Congeniality."
Most of the action unfolds in scenic Sitka, a tight-knit community brimming with a colorful menagerie of local yokels including a grocery clerk who moonlights as a male stripper (Oscar Nunez). Everybody seems curious about whether Andrew's intentions towards Margaret are honorable, from his parents (Mary Steenburgen and Craig T. Nelson), who would prefer for their Prodigal Son to stick around to take over the family business; to his wacky granny who's always pressuring him to prove his love for Margaret via public displays of affection; to girl next-door Gertrude (Malin Akerman), who still has feelings for her hunky, high school sweetheart. Plus, there's that annoying little bureaucrat from Immigration who has a knack for popping up when you least expect it.
Therefore, in order not to arouse any suspicions, Andrew and Margaret find themselves in increasingly-intimate compromising positions. The plot thickens when his folks arrange for an impromptu wedding that very weekend.
Will the guests will be singing "Here comes the bribe" or "Here comes the bride"?
That depends on whether Andrew and Margaret 'fess up, follow through with the sham, or better yet, actually fall in love for real.
An old-fashioned romp reminiscent of the best of Doris Day and Rock Hudson.
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for profanity, nudity and sexuality.
Running time: 107 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney
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