Movie Review: All About Steve (2009)
The world wants to know, when is Sandra Bullock going to drop the ditzy, short skirt, clueless, giggling girl routine and resume taking on some serious roles? That’s not a rhetorical question. It’s a straight-up question that calls for a straight-up answer.
Her periodic dilly-dallying in clueless-but-positive-girl-looking-for-love roles is a crushing misuse of her talents. Look at Jean Cabot, the snobbish, well-to-do white woman who needed a friend in Crash (2004). What about Ellen Roark in A Time to Kill (1996)? These roles commanded respect. Her role in All About Steve does not, but practically begs for the arched back hurling of rotten tomatoes.
Bullock is Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle producer who works for the Sacramento paper. She loves her job. She’s a genius, with an uncanny ability with words, fluency in 17 languages, and an encyclopedia’s worth of mostly useless information. She wears loud, kick-ass red boots. But she’s nuttier than a macadamia cookie recipe. All she’s missing is the stringy, oily hair.
When Mary is introduced to Steve (Bradley Cooper) on a blind date, her weirdo-ism gets the best of her and she does what she does so well for the duration of the movie—act strange to the point of making those twitchy homeless bums that sleep on park benches seem normal. She blows the opportunity on her date. Then poor camera operator Steve realizes he has a stalker on his hands who follows him around as he travels between reporting assignments at work.
Imagine a whole film where not just Bullock, but virtually everyone is weird to some degree. Imagine Bullock getting kicked off of buses for talking too much. Imagine Bullock annoying truck drivers by thanking them for not raping her. Her friends are a protester chick she met at a rally and a guy who makes sculptures out of apples. It isn’t hard to call time of death on this one.
You can almost relate to Steve. He’s the only normal guy amongst his two news anchor colleagues, Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church) a jug-headed fool who at least has a cool name and can cry on queue—and he looks like the Marlboro guy. And there is Angus (Ken Jeong), a guy who doesn’t add anything to the plot. These supporting characters get increasingly dumber, but they aren’t exaggerated enough to be made funny.
The three travel to a hostage situation where one of them mourns the loss of an only apparently dead horse. They attend “pro” vs. “anti” third leg rallies where opposing masses protest the surgical removal of a baby’s extra leg caused by a genetic disorder (not exactly knee-slapping material they have to work with).
The awfulness of All About Steve is not seen in its lack of good quality comedy, but in its pointless, eyebrow-raising queerness that spells “mission accomplished” on making a movie as weird – or weirder – than the main character herself. You feel guilty for even wanting to laugh, a couple of outlandishly funny moments aside.
The message of the movie is the only redeeming quality: Be yourself. Don’t change. There’s nothing wrong with being the odd one out. Be weird and be proud…and in that they said a mouthful.
Grade: D- (1 stars)
Director: Phil Traill
Summary: Convinced that a CCN cameraman is her true love, an eccentric crossword puzzler trails him as he travels all over the country, hoping to convince him that they belong together. Starring: Sandra Bullock “Mary Horowitz,” Thomas Haden Church “Hartman Hughes,” Bradley Cooper “Steve,” Ken Jeong “Angus,” DJ Qualls “Howard,” Keith David “Corbitt,” Howard Hesseman “Mr. Horowitz,” Beth Grant “Mrs. Horowitz,” Katy Mixon “Elizabeth,” M.C. Gainey “Norm the Truck Driver”