We certainly hope to be at a point where Canadian characters aren't locked in to stereotypes, such as "a-BOOT" or Grade 10 (instead of 10th grade) or stuffed beavers or flannel.
But in watching Sandra Bullock's character in "The Proposal," I was disturbed that there was not one sense of anything Canadian in this entire movie.
There is a hint that she is from Toronto, but Bullock acts as if it's a line in a movie with no sense that she has even been to Toronto, much less lived there.
Americans sometimes see Canadians as invisible. And there are certainly plenty of Canadian actors who prove that they can act American. Most of the people who watched "Family Ties" had no idea Michael J. Fox is Canadian.
In "The Proposal," the fact that Bullock's character is Canadian is crucial to the plot. And we're not convinced.
The movie's setup scene reveals that her character went out of the country while her visa application was being processed (a violation) and that other paperwork had not been filed in time.
This is a character that gets things done, and is very job-obsessive. Yet she doesn't do the things that would keep her in her job or have someone else do that work. Okkkkay.
"C'mon, c'mon. It's not like I'm even an immigrant. I'm from Canada for Christ's sake. There's got to be something we can do."
Trust me, I'm not doing the line justice. She says "Canada" like she has heard the word for the first time.
Anybody who emigrates to another country has an intrinsic view of what that means, and the need to have paperwork and everything else handled well. And when confronted, have a sense of where they are from.
Sandra Bullock pulls off none of those things. Now, some of the blame can go to the writer (Pete Chiarelli). Chiarelli is a movie executive who puts a woman's name on the script when he submitted it. This was Chiarelli's first movie as a writer.
You certainly get the impression that Chiarelli hasn't been to Canada before or since. And he certainly didn't do any research.
Bullock gets some of the credit. She did win a Razzie the same year that "The Proposal" came out. True, she also won an Oscar, so as long as she isn't playing a Canadian, she has a chance.
So if the character is "Canadian" and you aren't going to write anything in that gives her some traits of it, why not make her Greek or Italian or Luxembourgian?
Canada becomes the easy cop-out because, well, people speak English in Canada. And Chiarelli has heard of Toronto.
Even though her character is "from Toronto," the movie also points out that she is clueless in the wilderness as the movie forces her to make a trip to Sitka, Alaska. There are cottages outside Toronto, but apparently Bullock's character never left the concrete setting of Toronto, even as a child. To get from New York City to Sitka, they have to travel over her original country — an irony lost on everyone involved in the film.
The only thing that makes this even more absurd is that Ryan Reynolds is cast as the assistant/love interest. Reynolds is Canadian in real life and is playing an American character, but his job is to play an American.
When you watch the movie, you feel like Canada was used as a plot device with no intention of exposing any sense of Canada to the movie audience. The only Canadian sign in the whole movie is a lit Molson sign in a bar in Sitka — which actually was filmed in Massachusetts.