The Proposal

Fact: Critics don't get beaten down by god–awful movies (they can be fun—hello, Showgirls!). The ones that kill are the bland ones, the by–the–numbers movies that studios grind out like toxic sausage. The latest cinematic definition of insipid is The Proposal, a romantic comedy so numbing it feels like Novocaine. (Watch Peter Travers' video review of The Proposal.) Sandra Bullock is 44, but her high spirits and genuine comic skills appear to be ageless. So why cast her as a hardass Manhattan publishing diva, and then turn her to marshmallow at the earliest scent of man candy? That's what happens when she bullies her assistant (Ryan Reynolds) into marriage so she won't be deported back to Canada. If you can't figure out the ice thaw that follows, welcome back to the multiplex after life on Mars. Anne Fletcher (perpetrator of the equally soporific 27 Dresses) directs Peter Chiarelli's script like a manufacturer of hard plastic that is guaranteed to ward off intrusion from all recognizable human emotion. Only Betty White as someone's nut job grandma cuts through the plot inertia. This forever golden girl is 87 (really!) and her skills are indisputably ageless. White is the only spice in this watery stew. The one star rating I've put on The Proposal is all for Betty. No one, and I mean no one, can get this sharp cookie to dull her edge.

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