The Proposal opens Friday throughout the Triangle

Sitka, Alaska, may not be quite far enough upcountry for Sarah Palin to see it from her window, but it’s plenty far northand plenty coldall the same. Still, the folksy charms of this village (pop. 8,986) soon warm up frosty Sandra Bullock in The Proposal.

This film, mechanically directed by Anne Fletcher (responsible for last year’s worst movie, 27 Dresses), is the second Taming of the Shrew retread appearing this month, after My Life in Ruins, which, in comparison now looks tolerable.

Tyrannical Margaret (Bullock), a Canadian-born book editor, is about to be deported back to the land of universal health care and long life expectancies. To avoid this fate, she blackmails her cowering assistant, Drew (Ryan Reynolds), into marrying her so she might acquire a green card. The newly engaged couple travels to Drew’s Alaska home for his grandmother’s 90th birthday, where Margaret, once exposed to the simple goodness of the sourdough folk and Drew’s pathetic rich-boy daddy issues, will allow her icy heart to melt.

I don’t demand that every romantic comedyfilms that have an eager and relatively undemanding audienceto be as good as It Happened One Night, but they should be at least as good as Words and Music. The bar is not high. But The Proposal manages to be both predictable and unbelievable at the same time. Margaret and Drew bitterly hate each other for two years, and then after a few awkward high jinks they are gaga for each other? Bullock (who also takes a producer credit for this film) tries her best to sell this tired package: the spiraling lies, the wedding altar speechifying, the race to the airport. Again? Really?

Although there are good supporting players: Betty White provides a little sass; it’s always a pleasure to see Mary Steenburgen; Oscar Nuñez does his best with a showy bit; Ryan Reynolds is simply too vanilla-flavored to incite passion. The fakery and laziness abounds in this film: The shooting locations are obviously not Alaska (the movie was shot in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Burbank, Calif.), andtake it from someone who knowsthat’s not a 1929-style wedding dress.

Slovenly rom-com scribes: Please come up with new ideas!