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ALL ABOUT STEVE (director: Phil Traill; screenwriter: Kim Barker; cinematographer: Tim Suhrstedt; editors: Rod Dean/Virginia Katz; music: Christophe Beck; cast: Sandra Bullock (Mary Horowitz), Bradley Cooper (Steve), Thomas Haden Church (Hartman Hughes), DJ Qualls (Howard), Ken Jeong (Angus), Katy Mixon (Elizabeth), Jason Jones (Vasquez), Charlyne Yi (Young Protester), Howard Hesseman (Mr. Horowitz), Beth Grant (Mrs. Horowitz), M.C. Gainey (Norm the Truck Driver), Holmes Osborne (Soloman), Keith David (Corbitt); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Sandra Bullock/Mary McLaglen; Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation ; 2009)
“. . . really all about Sandra Bullock.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

“All About Steve” is really all about Sandra Bullock. If you’re an unabashed fan of the star, the good news for you is that this misfire is not that much worse than her others (though this is still her lamest film). It’s a fluff sitcom comedy directed by British TV director Phil Traill (“Post”/”Flipped”/”Dangle”) and written by Kim Barker (“License to Wed”), who tries to score film buff points with riffs from classics like the 1950 “All About Eve” and the 1951 “Ace in the Hole.” But this turkey is not funny, has no edge, is plastic and runs out of material before the film can decently be put out of its misery. But if you’re looking for a film that’s so lame that it should give you some unintentional laughs, this spoof is filled with such flat attempts at humor whereby the viewers can judge for themselves how entertaining is such an inert venture.

The eccentric Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) is a socially awkward middle-aged single woman who wears red boots and constructs crossword puzzles, formally called a “cruciverbalist,” for her local Sacramento newspaper. She’s brainy, pretty, gabby, and daffy, who has an idiot savant’s encyclopedic grasp for useless information but no social life. Because har pad is being fumigated, she temporarily lives with her understanding folks. Her parents get her a blind date with the hunky Steve (Bradley Cooper), a bland cameraman for a fictional national cable TV news station, which doesn’t work out because she jumps him demanding sex in the car and he panics and flees in horror. But she’s so smitten with him, that she creates an entire puzzle to him (thereby the title). As a result of creating this unprofessional puzzle, Mary loses her job. This gives her the time to stalk Steve across the country as he covers one breaking news story after another with his three-man crew that includes the unctuous news reporter Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church) and the conciliatory field producer Angus (Ken Jeong).

The playful rascal, Hartman, encourages the much abused clueless Mary to follow the crew by telling her Steve really loves her and wants her along but doesn’t know how to say it. Despite her mistreatment by the boys, she cheerfully trails Steve to Arizona, Oklahoma and Colorado, where the news stories include a hostage standoff with a gunman, protests over the rights of a three-legged baby, a tornado and, at last, a mine shaft cave-in on the fair grounds that traps a group of hearing-impaired children.

The slight film feels padded, and any meaningful spoof against the media is muted by how absurd and half-hearted the filmmakers are in giving this baby some bite. After all this nonsense, it tries to be serious and tell us that normal is whatever you say it is–thereby a deaf child is normal because the child can do everything but hear. Somehow receiving this right-on message in such a convoluted film didn’t feel right or, if you will, feel normal.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”