After her stunning success earlier this summer with The Proposal, Sandra Bullock is at it again, this time strapping on some killer red boots and doing anything else she can think of to win cheap laughs in All About Steve. Bullock plays Mary who lives in some sort of fantasy version of Sacramento where everybody buys the newspaper to do the crossword puzzles that Mary writes. She is the perfect woman for this job because she knows everything about everything. The problem is that she never stops telling people everything about everything and this has left her stranded in a sad life where she is single and lives with her parents.

Throughout the film director Phil Traill shows a real disdain for Mary and her quirky ways. This is probably done so that later on he can flip the script on us and we can all feel silly for not loving her from the start. But her character is so brutally ravaged by this script that it almost makes a full redemption something approaching impossible. In fact, her character is the perfect picture of what every modern woman shouldn’t be; needy, addicted to the sound of her own voice, unemployed for most of the film with stalker tendencies to boot. Yes, Mary has it all.

Mary’s loving parents set her up on a hot blind date with the titular Steve (Bradley Cooper). Unfortunately, she’s been out of the game for a few years so she instantly falls madly in love with him and then proceeds to pounce on him the second they are alone. He wisely fakes a phone call that implies he is on a fake business trip out of town. Mary, undeterred and smitten to say the least, turns in a crossword puzzle that is truly all about Steve, and since the paper apparently has no editor, it goes to print and Mary gets the ax. Now with nothing better to do she decides to become Steve’s personal stalker and follows him as he hopscotches from California to Arizona to Oklahoma before she finally touches base with him.

The plot is pretty much run of the mill stuff, but had the writer and director bothered to care, it could have possibly been funny. Or at least made sense. Like why is Thomas Haden Church’s character so intent on convincing Mary that Steve is in love with her? Is it for his own personal amusement or because he’s only there to advance the plot? There is one scene involving a group of deaf kids and a mineshaft that is just black enough to work, but unfortunately we have to pay for it in spades as it leads to 45 minutes of Kumbaya nonsense. Movies don’t get much softer than this.

Before you invest in seeing this flick it is important to remember that it stinks, through and through. But if you are somehow forced into seeing it and insist on looking at the positive side of life then you will probably find Bullock strangely endearing. There isn’t a single good or funny line in the bunch so any chuckle you may experience will be because of her physical humor. Near the end of the movie Mary finds herself at the bottom of the sinkhole with a media circus surrounding her. Traill seems to want to take the opportunity to scold the media for the slimy ways in which they prey upon the emotions of dumb people. But then he goes ahead and condescends his audience in the exact same way, going so far as to create possibly the most nauseating ending known to man (complete with Train’s "Drops of Jupiter" in the background). The message to be had was loud and clear: Be proud of who you are no matter what that is. Which is probably a message that has some appeal if you happen to be a hack director who makes mind-numbing entertainment for the masses.

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church, Ken Jeong

Director: Phil Traill

Runtime: 98 minutes

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Rating: PG-13


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