Betty White the only good part of the movie 'The Proposal'

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

Romantic comedy is a rehash of old jokes and the predictable can't-stand-each-other-but-fall-in-love progression.

Kerry Hayes/Touchstone Pictures/AP
Ryan Reynolds, left, and Sandra Bullock, are shown in a scene from, 'The Proposal.'

Every once in a while – too often these days – a movie from a major studio comes out that makes you wish there was a federally funded quality control review board in Hollywood. The monumentally unfunny "Land of the Lost" was bad enough. Now there's the monumentally unromantic "The Proposal," a dud of a different sort. Instead of being about dinosaurs and time warps, it's about gags that were old when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Sandra Bullock plays Margaret Tate, a martinet New York book editor whose underlings quake in fear of her. (I'm beginning to regret "The Devil Wears Prada" ever got made.) Ryan Reynolds is Andrew Paxton, her all-purpose and much-abused assistant who puts up with her because he wants to be an editor himself. (Like I said, I'm regretting the existence of "The Devil Wears Prada.") By a twist of fate, and bad screenwriting, Margaret, a Canadian citizen, must marry Andrew in order to remain in America. He agrees to the arrangement because he thinks it will get him an editor's job.

To make the impending nuptials look good to the Immigration Service, personified by an agent (Denis O'Hare) who could give Jabert in "Les Misérables" a run for his money, the two nonlovebirds fly to Andrew's homestead in Sitka, Alaska. His family is wealthy but he wants no part of their money. He wants to make his mark in New York, where presumably he has found a one-bedroom apartment to rent for under $3,000 a month.

Do you need to be told that good guy careerist Andrew and steely Margaret, who arrives in Sitka in high heels, eventually come to cuddles? ("The Devil Wears High Heels"?) This is the kind of movie where the lead characters are always wisecracking to hide their pain – that is, when they're not accidentally bumping into each other naked or opening up about why they got that strategically placed tattoo.

As Andrew's grandmother, Betty White steals the movie, except I'm not sure she'd take that as a compliment. After all, if you steal something that's worth nothing, what does that make you? Grade: D- (Rated PG-13 for sexual content, nudity and language.)

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.