"The Proposal": Romcom Meets Bad Slapstick

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 19 2009 9:00 AM

"The Proposal": Romcom Meets Bad Slapstick

Sandra Bullock is right that The Proposal , out today, is not about cougars . The movie ignores the age gap between leading lady Bullock, almost 45, and leading man Ryan Reynolds, 32. Which is good, according to Bullock: "The word cougar makes me want to throw up in my mouth," she told USA Today .

But Bullock is wrong when she tries to duck the romcom label. "It's a comedy that has romance in it," she insists. 'When you say romantic comedy, everyone cringes." Sorry, but the plot is as romcom as it gets: cold, mean woman threatened with deportation makes hard-working underling who hates her marry her so she can get a green card. Need I even say "spoiler alert" to reveal that through all the bickering and feigned romance come brief moments of sincerity, a forced but ultimately pleasurable kiss, and then, bam, they’re in love?

Advertisement

Cringing, in fact, was my default expression throughout the 107 minutes of The Proposal . I cringed when Bullock’s character, a high-powered, successful book editor, doesn’t know what YouTube is. I cringed during her excessively long nude scene (again, she seems inexplicably moronic, having failed to bring a towel with her to the shower, and then proving incapable of walking to the linen closet to get one). And I did a full-body cringe when Bullock stumbles upon the very white Betty White, who plays Reynolds’ grandma, in the woods, wearing a sort of headdress while chanting and dancing to invoke tribal spirits.

The only part of the movie that didn’t make me cringe was the romance, and Bullock has Reynolds to thank for that. He played the love scenes with more John Cusack than Moe Howard-as is fitting for a romcom.

TODAY IN SLATE

Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
  Life
Outward
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Oct. 17 2014 1:33 PM What Happened at Slate This Week?  Senior editor David Haglund shares what intrigued him at the magazine. 
  Arts
Behold
Oct. 19 2014 4:33 PM Building Family Relationships in and out of Juvenile Detention Centers
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Space: The Next Generation
Oct. 19 2014 11:45 PM An All-Female Mission to Mars As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.