Sandra Bullock's Surprising "Proposal"

Why the star still shines in romantic comedy.

Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock in "The Proposal"
Photograph: Photo by: Kerry Hayes/Touchstone Pictures

Maintaining a career as a leading romantic comedienne is tough as you hit 40.  Many actresses age out of the available roles, and some struggle to find success with more dramatic fare (just ask Meg Ryan). Steady as she goes, though, is Sandra Bullock, who’s more than willing to risk being unappealing for the sake of a juicy comedy role. In The Proposal (opening June 19) she upends the rom-com formula by inverting the older man/younger woman convention.
Margaret is a tightly wound, formidable book editor who’s married to her job. Andrew (the ubiquitous Ryan Reynolds) is her super-competent assistant. He knows every detail of her life, while she knows very little about him. This becomes clear when, on the verge of losing her work visa and being deported to Canada, Margaret surprises her bosses and Andrew by announcing that she’s marrying him.
It’s a tough line to walk, but Bullock doesn’t do a nasty caricature of a bitch boss. Her careerist is a professional woman whose tucked-away vulnerability resurfaces when she travels with Andrew to his Alaska hometown and and is charmed by his sprawling family—and him (shades of While You Were Sleeping, my fave Bullock flick). Bullock somehow manages to play a woman that this confident younger man can simultaneously loathe and adore. She’s bossy and sexy.

It helps that Reynolds holds his own with Bullock. They’re well-matched, both intellectually and physically. When they run into each other nude, they’re both in fabulous shape. And that’s how you make a smart romantic comedy 20 years into your career—you act your age.

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