All About Steve kind of makes you feel bad for Sandra Bullock. She clearly wants to do something other than the romcoms that studios probably push on her, but when she's in something like Murder by Numbers or Premonition, it never seems to work. So you can imagine Bullock getting the script for All About Steve and thinking that this could be a good compromise: it's cutesy and light-hearted, but she gets to be something other than the pretty romantic lead. In this, she'd play a geeky weirdo -- a character role! So the inevitable question arises once again: Does it work? Answer: Sorry Sandra, not this time.
The quirky character that Bullock plays is a crossword-puzzle writer named Mary Horowitz, whose immense knowledge of all the facts that go into writing clues for her weekly contributions to the local paper, coupled with her lack of applicable social skills, place her on the behavioral spectrum just this side of Rain Man. When her mom and dad set her up on a blind date with the super-hot TV news cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper), Mary is so excited about his frosted tips and five-o'clock shadow that she jumps him in the car outside her parents house. Steve goes along at first, but soon becomes too wigged out by her nonstop recitation of factoids to go through with it, and fakes a phone call from work, claiming he has to leave town on assignment. Among the frantic niceties he throws at Mary in order to extract her from the vehicle is a mention that if only she didn't have to work, she could come along with him.
But, of course, Mary is completely insane, and after she gets fired a few days later for devoting an entire crossword puzzle to her new beau, she takes off on a bus to catch up with Steve on his assignment (a real one has arisen since the one he fabricated). Weirdness ensues, as Steve tries to fend off his stalker, and Mary charms all the rubbernecks loitering around the news event with her well-meaning river of pointless information. Bullock makes an effort to play up the zaniness factor, since striving for anything resembling reality would be terrifying, but the movie is terrifying anyway. It just doesn't work; Bullock is nowhere near endearing enough to inspire anything but discomfort, and the story -- which is already on thin ice from the very premise -- only gets more and more awkward as random side characters are introduced, and the writers scramble for situations in which Mary's clearly undiagnosed disability can be used as an asset. It's so bad, you might feel a little sorry for Bullock -- but don't take pity on her. Watching All About Steve will only make you feel worse.
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