The Proposal should have been unwatchable. It should have been a forgettable romantic comedy along the lines of director Anne Fletcher’s prior foible, 27 Dresses. It should have been silly to the point of being idiotic.

There’s very little about The Proposal that hasn’t been seen before. From the moment the theater’s house lights dim, you know exactly what’s going to happen. (I’ll give you a hint– a hard-as-nails, no-nonsense female and a cute, loveable male are forced to spend time together, getting to know each other. Anyone wanna make any bets?)

Even scattered scenes throughout the movie are telegraphed from miles away. In fact, other than Oscar Nuñez’s show-stealing ‘moment’, you won’t be surprised by much of the plot.

Enter Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock.

People throw the word ‘chemistry’ around quite a bit. But in The Proposal, it really is the chemistry that takes a movie chock-full of several of the most clichéd themes in movie (nay, entertainment) history and transforms them into one of the funniest, romantic flicks in a while.

Fish-out-of-water? Check. Rich-girl-‘poor’-boy? Check. Oil-and-water? Check. They’re all there…in spades. But surprisingly you’ll leave the theater feeling like your ten bucks was well-spent.

Reynolds, who single-handedly anchored the excellent Definitely, Maybe, plays Sandra Bullock’s executive assistant. When she is threatened with deportation (Canadian with expired visa), she quickly realizes that a staged marriage to him could save the day.

See? Can you seriously not predict how this will end up?

But the simple truth is, the two of them are so entirely believable together, it works. It’s very easy to see how Reynolds’ puppy-dog looks would melt away Bullock’s veneer. And how Bullock’s charms would make any man want to try and try again until he succeeded. And it doesn’t hurt that his endearing family (Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen, along with ‘Gammy’ Betty White) are there to help break her down. Another saving grace is Bullock’s continued penchant for physical comedy, which comes through in scene after scene.

There was one surprise, though…and I’m still trying to figure it out. Exactly how (and why) would Bullock’s character know the lyrics to Lil John’s ‘Get Low’?

Aw, heck, I’ll let that slide– it’s one of the best scenes in an already-great movie.

4.5/5 stars