The Proposal: Betty White Steals The Show

L-R: Mary Steenburgen, Betty White, and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal.(Touchstone Pictures)

The Proposal plays to the familiar rom-com beats but next to Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, the late Betty White steals the show.

The irony of The Proposal is that Sandra Bullock is an American native while Ryan Reynolds is a Canadian native. In the film, Reynolds plays the American while Bullock is a Canadian with an expired visa.

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the executive editor-in-chief of a major publishing house. However, nobody likes her, not even executive assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds). Upon learning she’s going to be deported, she basically bribes Andrew into marrying her because all his work will have been for nothing. Andrew’s grandmother, Annie (Betty White), is celebrating her 90th birthday that weekend in Sitka so the two of them have just days to get to know each other. If they don’t get their story straight, USCIS agent Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare), who already suspects fraud, will take matters into his own hands.

The Proposal
Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in The Proposal (Touchstone Pictures).

The fun really begins once they get to Alaska. For one, the Paxton name is all over the town. Their family home is huge. It tells you how little that Margaret knows about Andrew whereas he knows so much about her. But as they get to know each other, you get this sense that they are falling in love for real. Not the sham love that they are trying to display in front of family and friends. Where Annie and Andrew’s mom, Grace (Mary Steenburgen), welcome Margaret with open arms, the same cannot be said of his dad, Joe (Craig T. Nelson). Joe suspects something is up because Andrew has never ever spoken highly of his boss.

Listen, I can discuss how the film plays to genre beats. However, the cast manages to win us over. You have both Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds! Together, the duo display great chemistry together. We cannot discuss this film without getting into how the legendary Betty White steals the show. Her appearance in The Proposal had a domino effect. First, the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award was announced in September 2009. Following this, Betty White hosted SNL in May 2010. Hot in Cleveland premiered in June 2010 and would finish the sixth and final season in June 2010. None of the Betty White renaissance would be possible without this film! Her final live-action feature role came in 2010 with the release of You Again.

I meant to rewatch the comedy in 2009 for the ten year anniversary but didn’t get around to doing so. With Betty White’s passing on New Year’s Eve, I made The Proposal my first film of 2022. I cannot think of a better way to start the year. Over ten years later, The Proposal remains a funny comedy. Case in point: the then-235 members of the BFCA nominated the film as one of five films for Best Comedy.

DIRECTOR: Anne Fletcher
SCREENWRITER: Peter Chiarelli
CAST: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Malin Åkerman, Craig T. Nelson, Mary Steenburgen, Denis O’Hare, and Betty White

Touchstone Pictures released The Proposal in theaters on June 19, 2009.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.