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Saturday
Sep052009

All About Steve

Here is a film being released at the perfect time. Bradley Cooper blew up huge this summer in the mega hit, The Hangover, and Sandra Bullock hit box office gold with her surprise smash, The Proposal. So what do you get when you combine the talents of these two actors into one romantic comedy? You get All About Steve, a vapid, mind numbing, rom-com disaster that's about as fun as being beaten up by your sister.

Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, a bizarre, irritating crossword puzzle constructor (she makes one a week for her local paper) who still lives with her parents. She has only one friend, her hamster, and has spent more time in front of books than out on dates. Her parents, desperate to find the right man for her, hook her up on a blind date with Steve, played by Cooper. Upon meeting, she's instantly smitten by him and throws herself at him as soon as they get in his truck. Though initially down for a rumble in the back seat, Steve quickly realizes that going through with this sexual encounter might not be such a good idea after Mary starts detailing their long term compatibility with each other. So he makes up an excuse to get her out of his truck, hopefully avoiding any emotional attachment from Mary, but Mary, being the annoyingly optimistic person she is, doesn't realize it's a brush off and makes her next crossword puzzle all about Steve (natch), including his eye color, his favorite food, even what his lips taste like. The readers don't like this because it's practically unsolvable, so the paper fires her.

And thus starts a catastrophic road trip romance movie that killed enough brain cells to drop me at least a couple of IQ points. After the contrivance that results in her removal from the paper, she decides to take a trip to Tucson, Arizona because that's where Steve is working for the day. She thinks this is a good idea because, in an attempt to not hurt her feelings, Steve made up a lie telling her that he wishes she could come with him, but alas, "You have a job." You see, Steve is a likable guy who isn't shallowly misogynistic and won't sleep with a girl even if he finds her attractive. He sees how unpleasant Mary's persona is and does his best to avoid getting mixed up with her, but Mary stays persistent and follows him across many states, basically stalking him. Oh, and we're supposed to like her.

The problem is that Mary is a creepy, obsessive woman whose understanding of life stems from an inexperienced existence sitting in seclusion in her room. She has no real grasp on humanity or what it takes to fit into a functional society. She's the type of woman who could snap any day because her repressed emotions have finally caused her to reach the breaking point. She's not a pleasant person to be around, which is contradictory to the film's being. When you can't even get right the one driving force behind your movie, you have produced an epic failure.

One major detriment is Bullock's appeal. She isn't a blonde bombshell anymore and has become a bit too old to play these cutesy roles. She hasn't gotten away from the clumsy pretty girl roles that made her famous and now seems more like a woman in desperate need to cling on to the last shred of a dying career than someone with an affinity for acting. As for Bradley Cooper, his intense beauty, I mean talent, is wasted on this insipid, uninspired, vacuous movie succubus. The only person who squeezes any charm out of this rubbish is Thomas Haden Church, who plays a news anchor egging Mary on so he can amuse himself by making Steve's life miserable.

But a smile or two here and there certainly doesn't make up for the lack of direction, style or heart. In fact, it could be one of the poorest written films I've seen this year, with a sloppy narrative that was so predictable, I was quoting lines before they were said. This is a dumbed down movie for the dumbed down crowd, including seemingly random instances of wholly unnecessary narration where Mary tries to put some context to the situation despite the simplicity of the film making its relevance moot. For example, after one character curses in front of her, she comes on with a voiceover explaining how cursing isn't appropriate for crosswords, but is great with friends. Wow. Thanks for the enlightenment, Mary.

This is what happens when no effort is put into a movie, or at least I hope it is. If the people involved actually tried, then they should go home, look in the mirror and really contemplate whether or not they chose the correct career path because All About Steve is wretched. It's a horrid assault on the brains of the unfortunate folks who watch it, akin to what it would be like if somebody decided to take a knife and plunge it into your skull, not killing you, but hitting the correct nerve to make you stupider, because you will feel that way after watching it. If you're a glutton for punishment, have at it. But everyone else, for the love of God, stay as far away from All About Steve as you possibly can.

All About Steve receives 0.5/5

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