>> All About Steve (4/10)

All About SteveThe makers of All About Steve want to present  Mary Magdalene Horowitz (played with tics and smiles by Sandra Bullock) as a desirable, attractive, brain-damaged idiot woman-child–the sexiest, smartest weirdo you’ve ever met–and in doing so, create one of the most insufferable characters Sandra Bullock has ever played.  The issue here is that she’s the heart and soul of All About Steve.  If she doesn’t win you over as a character, the movie fails completely.

Mary is an oversexed crossword puzzle writer who attempts to jump the bones of news cameraman Steve before they can leave the driveway on their first blind date together (Steve is played with the same bland second-fiddle charisma Bradley Cooper was known for, pre-Hangover).  This aggressiveness, and Mary’s remarkable inability to shut up, freak Steve out to the point that he fakes a phone call from work to get away from her.  Mary is oblivious to this and cooks up an “All About Steve” Steve-themed crossword puzzle for her Sacramento paper the next day, causing her to get fired from her job, but allowing her the opportunity to follow Steve’s news crew (played by Thomas Haden Church and Ken Jeong) all around the country.

Church, as boorish reporter Hartman Hughes, convinces Mary that Steve is in  love with her, and, in the kind of set-up that only happens on Planet Movie World, Mary needs to constantly ignore Steve’s fear and pleas for her to leave him alone.  Hartman’s never given a good reason to tell Mary to do this (professional ribbing seems to be the movie’s lousy excuse), but she does it with gusto.  To follow Steve, Mary tags along in a vintage 1970’s Gremlin with an apple sculptor played by DJ Qualls and a political activist played by bimbo brickhouse Katy Mixon.  You can imagine all the wacky antics that ensue as Mary travels from state-to-state, tragedy-to-tragedy (they are a news crew after all), stalking Steve and befriending everyone she comes into contact with through the sheer power of her irresistible quirkiness.  Yes, you can imagine wacky antics, but you won’t get any.

What you will get is Mary behaving, at times, genuinely disturbed and frightening.  There’s an unusual lack of jokes in All About Steve, replacing snappy banter and gags with the kind of stillborn casting that assumes that just because you cast funny people means they’re automatically going to be funny (Ken Jeong, in particular, is floundering here with nothing to do).  There’s a schmaltzy crossword-puzzle-as-life-lesson voice-over from Bullock that sounds like a last minute addition to counteract Mary’s unattractive lunacy, but it just makes things worse.  When it chimes in, it only reminds us that we’re watching this movie drown, struggling to find a comedic tone.

All About Steve never even comes close to finding that tone, no matter how many times they use Cake’s “Short Skirt, Long Jacket” as Mary’s entrance cue.  That right there is crime enough for me to tell you to avoid it, but if you’d like some more reasons, I’d point you to director Phil Traill’s general lack of energy and this movie’s cheap-looking, direct-to-video visual style.  All About Steve does a huge disservice to Bullock’s appeal, casting her as a character too pretty to be that unattractive, too old to play so young, and too smart to be this stupid.

4 on a 1 to 10 scale

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2 Comments

  1. The Final Destination last week, then Gamer and this back-to-back. I think you might need a hug, or something letting you know things’ll be okay. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you give a multitude of flicks a sub 5/10 rating this close together. Maybe you should avoid Halloween 2. Give yourself a break for a bit.

  2. I can’t believe you gave this a 4. I turned it off, it was that bad.

    And the voiceover. Ugh.


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