All About Steve

All About Steve

Bradley Cooper finds this movie as frustrating as we do.

(20th Century Fox) Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Howard Hesseman, Katy Mixon, Keith David, Beth Grant. Directed by Phil Traill

We all are who we are; that is an unshakable fact. Sometimes, who we are falls a mite outside what most folks would consider normal. There’s nothing wrong with that but sometimes people fall so far outside of normal that they can’t even see normal from where they are. Again, nothing wrong with that – most of the time.

Mary Magdalene Horowitz (Bullock) – yes, she’s half-Jewish, half-Catholic – works as a crossword puzzle constructor (a.k.a. a cruciverbalist) for a Sacramento daily newspaper. She’s recently moved back home with dear old Mom and Dad, mainly because her own apartment is being fumigated. Mary is 40ish, and single. She pretty much has always been single. She has a nervous habit of talking non-stop using a ton of $5 words and spitting out trivial facts like they’re watermelon seeds at a country fair. She also wears a pair of shiny bright red disco boots everywhere that pretty much guarantee her that nobody will ever – and I mean ever – take her seriously.

Other than that, she’s a pretty decent-hearted woman who just needs to meet the right man, and she thinks she’s done that. His name is Steve (Cooper) and he works as a cameraman for a cable news channel. They meet on a blind date at which she is completely smitten by his charm. However, after she about rapes him in the cab of his truck at the date’s conclusion, his feelings for her are a lot less sanguine. As a matter of fact, his tiles squeal as he tries to drive away from her at warp speed. Scotty, push the engines ‘til they blow.

She loses her job after constructing a crossword puzzle in which every clue has something to do with her would-be boyfriend. With no obligations holding her back, she decides to follow him everywhere he goes from one big news story to the next, much to the bemusement of his smarmy on-camera reporter Hartman Hughes (Church) and their producer Angus (Jeong).

Along the way she is subjected to every indignity you can imagine (and a few you can’t). Now, I have nothing against putting characters in a comedy through the ringer, but some of the actions border on the cruel, like the bus driver who tricks her into getting off the bus, then drives away, stranding her in the middle of nowhere.

Part of the problem is that it’s Sandra Bullock, man. You want to like her and at times here I nearly do, but the character is so filled with quirks and ticks that you want to get far, far away from her, which is never a good thing either in a movie theater or at home.

This is a movie that should have worked and to be fair, some of it does. The cast here is one any casting director would be proud to assemble, but there’s not a lot of chemistry here. The humor is a little on the low-brow side and going for something edgy they wind up instead just make you wonder what the heck they were thinking.

There really isn’t one place to lay blame at. One gets the impression that there’s a lot of ad libbing going on, but the script and story aren’t that strong to begin with. There is certainly a good deal of overacting, kind of like silent cinema comedy in the 21st century.

This movie was bookended by The Proposal and The Blind Side, the latter of which won Bullock her first Oscar. Unfortunately, this movie also won her a Razzie, making her the first actress to win one of each in the same year. That All About Steve sat on a studio shelf for two years should have been fair warning that this movie wasn’t going to be successful. Even if you’re a big fan of Miss Bullock as I am, you’re going to find a very hard time to find nice things to say about this one.

WHY RENT THIS: A very likable cast that appears to be having a good time makes you really want to like this movie.

WHY RENT SOMETHING ELSE: The cast tries just a little too hard sometimes to be funny and the script veers off from genuinely madcap to sincerely silly in places.

FAMILY VALUES: There is some sexual innuendo but for the most part it’s harmless; you might think twice about bringing the very young (i.e. preschoolers) but otherwise this is okay for most audiences.

TRIVIAL PURSUIT: During the scene in which Mary is soaking in the bathtub, the song in the background is sung by Helga Bullock, Sandra’s real-life mom.

NOTABLE DVD EXTRAS: There’s actually a surprising amount of material for a movie many figured would get the bare-bones treatment. There’s a mock behind-the-scenes interview with the terminally annoying Kerri Kenney as an “Access Hollywood”-type interviewer and a Fox Movie Channel program called “Life After Film School” in which three film students interview director Phil Traill.


TOMORROW: A Perfect Getaway

New Releases for the Week of September 4, 2009


Sandra Bullock: Cutie-pie or stalker?

Sandra Bullock: Cutie-pie or stalker?


(20th Century Fox) Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Katy Mixon, Howard Hesseman, Beth Grant, Keith David. Directed by Phil Traill.

It starts out with a blind date. Cable news cameraman Steve and trivia expert Mary are very different; Mary is socially awkward and very bright, Steve is down-to-earth. The date is over and so is the relationship; at least, Steve thinks so. Mary, on the other hand, thinks she has found the one she’s meant for and she’s willing to go anywhere – and everywhere – no matter what to be with “her man.” Steve wants nothing more to do with her, much to the amusement of reporter Hartman Hughes, who thinks any opportunity to torture his cameraman is a good one. So is it true love? Or is it stalking? I think you can guess the answer.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: PG-13 (for sexual content including innuendos)


(Miramax) Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Kristen Wiig. Director Mike Judge goes from the white collar workplace of Office Space to the blue collar battleground here. The sexually frustrated owner of a culinary extract factory concocts an elaborate scheme to get his frigid wife to cheat on him so that he is free to pursue the hot temp working for him, unaware that his temp is a con artist looking for a big payday and finds one – just as his business is about to be sold for millions. Is this going to be more like Office Space or Idiocracy? Looks more like the former, judging on the trailer.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for language, sexual references and some drug use)


(Lionsgate) Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Ludacris, Kyra Sedgwick. In the near future, mind control technology allows gamers to take control of actual people and play out duels to the death in reality in a game called Slayers. The most successful Slayer of all is Kable; a man ripped from his family and forced to fight in the arena of death. He must convince his player, Simon, to help him escape the game, free his family and stop the billionaire responsible for the carnage.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language)


(Magnolia) Marc Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton. Two old college buddies get drunk one night and decide to enter an amateur porn contest, but what could they do that will go so far as to push the boundaries of decency that hasn’t already been done before? It’s a sticky question, and the answer is for the two very straight, very heterosexual guys to have sex on-camera. How will they make it work? And who will tell the wife of one of the buddies? Director Shelton pokes at buddy-film conventions while exploring the vast underbelly of the male ego.

See the trailer here.

For more on the movie this is the website.

Rating: R (for some strong sexual content, pervasive language and a scene of drug use)