'All About Steve' Movie Review

Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in All About Steve
Thomas Haden Church, Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper in 'All About Steve.'. © 20th Century Fox

Let me tell you all about All About Steve... A disaster of non-epic proportions, a waste of time and talent, and a comedy without a lick of humor - that's about it for All About Steve. Filmed a few years back before Bradley Cooper had even shot The Hangover, you've got to believe this misguided fiasco is only getting a theatrical release because Cooper's hot right now and so is Sandra Bullock (The Proposal), All About Steve's star and producer.

There's no other explanation as to why this didn't go straight to the discount DVD bin.

All About Steve is in the running for the worst movie of 2009, and is easily the worst film of Bullock's 20 year career. The normally engaging actress usually wins me over, even when the material she's working with isn't brilliant (Speed 2, Forces of Nature). Bullock's always had that girl-next-door, down-to-earth vibe going for her, but even she can't make a silk purse out of this sow's ear.

The Story

Bullock plays Mary Magdalene Horowitz, a smart but lonely word freak who lives with her parents and works as the crossword puzzle constructor for her hometown newspaper. Although her job requires only one crossword a week, Mary obsesses over each and every word to the point that she has no social life. Being a cruciverbalist is apparently such a taxing job that it's forced Mary to forego real friends and settle for a pet hamster as her one and only confidante.
It's also forced her to forget how to change her footwear, and she's never seen in anything other than red go-go boots.

Despite the fact she doesn't have anyone really to talk to, Mary never stops chattering. Never. Random strangers are the recipients of her unwanted and at times inappropriate displays of intellect.

She tells people she's just met that she wants to have sex sometime soon...not with them, but with someone. She even makes off-color remarks to a group of elementary students gathered for career day. Mary has no filter, no sense of what's socially acceptable, and no idea how to interact with other human beings. In fact, Mary might have some form of autism. It fits, but it's never explored in the script.

Anyhow, Mary's parents set her up with TV cameraman Steve (Cooper). Now why a guy who looks like Bradley Cooper, has a great job, and doesn't display outward signs of being a serial killer would ever need his parents to set him up with a date is totally unexplained. But he shows up at the Horowitz', dazzles Mary with his pearly whites and toned body, and by the time they reach his car, Mary's jumping his bones. At first Steve's okay with this...but Mary won't stop talking, totally destroying the mood and clueing Steve into the fact that there's something about Mary that's not quite right. He fakes a phone call in order to escape, and then makes the mistake of telling Mary he wishes she could be with him on the road while he's covering breaking news but understands that she has a job to do.

He hightails it out of there believing he'll never see her again. If only that were true... Mary creates an 'All About Steve' crossword, gets fired, and thinks it's a sign she should now stalk Steve on the road.

So off to various disasters Mary goes, red go-go boots alerting Steve and his cohorts - narcissistic TV reporter Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church) and producer Angus (Ken Jeong) - to her presence. Hartman finds Steve's uncomfortableness fascinating, and perhaps fodder for a report on stalkers, so he eggs Mary on. Hartman tells her not to listen to anything Steve says and to keep following them around the country no matter how much Steve declares he doesn't want her around. Mary, although a smart woman with an encyclopedic knowledge of practically every subject, is completely clueless when it comes to dealing with people and believes Hartman's telling her the absolute truth.

From Tucson to Oklahoma City to deaf children falling into a deserted mine shaft, Mary's there driving Steve (and the audience) crazy with her non-stop blathering.

The Acting

To be brutally honest, not that any actress could have saved this but Bullock's too old for this part. She looks fantastic and can pass for much younger, but this Mary character should have been in her 20s for the story to have made the least bit of sense. Again, not that that would have saved the film. It's horrible, and nothing or no one could have salvaged this sludge from being anything but atrociously bad.

Bradley Cooper's nothing but window dressing and Ken Jeong's just sort of along for the ride. Thomas Haden Church fares slightly better as the ego-crazed reporter, but it's such an annoyingly cliched role that Haden Church isn't doing anything here that hasn't been done dozens of times before.

DJ Qualls and Katy Mixon show up at one of the 'breaking news' sites and then spend the last half of the movie accompanying Mary on her crazy quest to be with Steve. Why? I don't know. I couldn't stand listening to Mary for an hour and a half, let alone drive around the country with her in the backseat of a Gremlin.

The Bottom Line

Nothing about All About Steve is funny. Not the go-go boots, the incessantly chattering Mary, her cross-country pursuit of a man who doesn't want her, or any of the breaking news events the TV crew covers. Writer Kim Barker (License to Wed) wants us to believe Mary's just a unique, independent woman and not a seriously disturbed stalker. We're supposed to love her quirkiness, her individuality, and her courage to swim against the tide... Instead, Barker missed the target and created instead a character who's unlikeable and absurdly out of touch.

Even the firefighters are portrayed as idiots in this, that's how low this thing goes as it grasps at straws to get a chuckle. They can't correctly count how many children they've rescued from a mine shaft and are incapable of figuring out that all that's needed to pull Mary and one stranded deaf kid out of the hole is a rope!

All About Steve is offensive, absurd and pointless. There's nothing to enjoy, relate to, or laugh at in All About Steve. It's poorly written and just a poor excuse for a comedy. Forget about All About Steve.


All About Steve was directed by Phil Traill and is rated PG-13 for sexual content including innuendos.

Theatrical Release Date: September 4, 2009