Maps of the Heart Nutshell: In which Hepburn becomes Tracy and Tracy becomes Hepburn. Sort of.
The Proposal is ostensibly a gender reversal of Tracy & Hepburn, yet in most ways more of the same. The uptight workaholic MB (Mean B*tch) boss is charmed by the LSHGG (Long-Suffering Helluva Great Guy) assistant, who is still the strong, even-keeled, financially independent man while she’s still the beyotch-y woman who needs saving. That said, Sandra Bullock rocks & Ryan Reynolds is upped in my estimation merely be being in her orbit and holding his own so well. The hearts are for Bullock rocking another film as a strong leading lady. Extra points for an older female boss falling for the younger, good-looking assistant, as well as send-ups on double standards—like her comment to the disapproving male lawyer, subtly calling him out on his hypocrisy by referencing his own indiscretions with his secretary.
Interesting that even though she’s the ostensibly strong woman, or the Spencer Tracy to Ryan Adam’s Katherine Hepburn, as Bullock put it—the woman is still in many ways the weaker part of the equation, in need of the solid, even-keeled guy to set her straight. He’s got citizenship, family and family money. Her vulnerability is intensified because it’s all on his turf—in Alaska, so she’s the (weak) fish out of water.
This is a man who comes from a very wealthy family that lives in a mansion on its own island. Not like the old movies where the Gal Friday is poor and needs a man. No, this man is all man—it’s Ryan Reynolds for heavens sake. With that wealth he could start his own publishing company, but needs Sandra – why?
None of this is too surprising since it’s a male writer, though women writers can write worse scripts for women then men, so it’s not an ipso facto negative, but it’s a warning sign.
Yet all things being relative in the land where men’s movies reign supreme, I like it not only because Sandra Bullock excels as per usual and Ryan Reynolds is growing on me just by sparking with her, but also because we have a rare, if not unique phenomenon—a female boss gets the (younger) male secretary. Take note, Richard Curtis! (See Love, Actually review)