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All About Steve Can Be Summed Up in Three Letters: B-A-D

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2009 9 Sep
  • COMMENTS
<i>All About Steve</i> Can Be Summed Up in Three Letters:  B-A-D

DVD Release Date:  December 22, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:  September 4, 2009
Rating:  PG-13 (for sexual content including innuendos)
Genre:  Comedy
Run Time:  98 min.
Director:  Phil Traill
Actors:  Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong, Keith David, Howard Hesseman, Beth Grant, Katy Mixon

If you can overlook the lowbrow attempts for a laugh (or a long, long string of moments that just aren't very funny at all), there's a very good message hidden deep, deep down in the very bad comedy of All About Steve. Unfortunately, 98 minutes is far too long to waste finding it.

In a world where conformity often reigns supreme, a charmingly eccentric character like Mary Horowitz normally wouldn't be a bad person to hang with for an hour and a half—especially when she's portrayed by the insanely likeable Sandra Bullock.

Beyond Mary's rapid-fire spewing of trivia, (we're told she's really smart several times), stalker-ish tendencies and those shiny, red, knee-high boots she insists on wearing with everything, however, there's really nothing all that interesting or noteworthy about this particular crossword puzzle constructor. In fact, it's downright puzzling why the screenwriter seems so intent on showing how "weird" she is but forgot to develop much else about her character.

Yes, we get it. Mary isn't "normal." As Sacramento's answer to Will Shortz, Mary dedicates her life to creating crossword puzzles because solving one is "the most spectacular fun a person can have without passing out." And yes, we also get that it's odd for a woman her age to still live with her parents with the flimsy excuse that it's taking a while for her apartment to get fumigated properly. Also a novice in all things dating, (and apparently, common sense) when it comes to men, well, it's all about Steve once they meet.

Noted.

Even more surprising than Bullock signing on for a comedy this unfunny and simplistic is the far more threadbare treatment of the object of Mary's affection, Steve (Bradley Cooper). For reasons that are never quite explained, let alone make a twitch of sense, Steve's parents feel the need to set him up for a blind date, even though his easy smile, promising career and heartthrob good looks would probably make him a hit with countless single ladies—even just for one night.

But for whatever reason that Steve needs his parents' dating intervention, he ends up meeting Mary. And before you can say "Every Breath You Take," Mary comes on to Steve like gangbusters. Before the date can even officially begin, she's initiated an impromptu make-out session so scary that Steve bolts before they even leave the curb in front of Mary's parents' house.

Despite the "he's-just-not-that-into-you" vibes he's clearly giving, Mary is still convinced she's met the love of her life because of a flippant comment he's made to escape a scary Friday night. Now convinced that Steve wants her to join him on the road (he's the cameraman for an on-air reporter who's played to over-tanned, over-zealous buffoon perfection by Thomas Haden Church), Mary follows the story wherever it takes her, as long as it's close to Steve.

Along the way, Mary meets a couple of kindred spirits, who like her, don't quite fit the mold. Case in point:  One carves impressions of celebrities' faces into apples and drives a 1976 Gremlin, while the other holds candlelight vigils for causes she believes in like preserving the third arm of an infant born with one limb too many.

Ultimately, the very scenario I just described typifies the flick's greatest weakness—any connection resembling reality. Not only does nothing about these characters or situations remotely ring true, but the attempts at humor fall flat again and again and again. In fact, All About Steve might possibly be the worst endorsement for "just being yourself." With someone as odd as Mary on the loose, simply blending in seems like a far better alternative, which doesn't do much to support the whole "don't be normal" message that's preached ad nauseam.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol:  One reference to drug use.
  • Language/Profanity:  A smattering of profanity including a couple of instances where the Lord's name is taken in vain.
  • Sex/Nudity:  There are several sexual innuendos throughout including some in very poor taste. Also, Mary's first—and really, only—date with Steve gets off to a sexually charged start. After changing into a bra-revealing top and a very short skirt, Mary initiates an aggressive kiss that escalates into Steve fondling her breasts. Before things go much further, Steve realizes she's a bit, well, odd and calls the date off prematurely.
  • Violence:  Most of the violence is played for laughs like when Steve falls from his camera platform and sustains minor injuries. Mary and a driver she accepts a ride from joke about him not killing or raping her. In the movie's more "serious" subplot, several hearing-impaired children fall down a well. Mary, and later, Hartman (Thomas Haden Church), joins them.
  • Spiritual References:  Mary's middle name is Magdalene, and she quotes the Bible from time to time.

Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog

For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.