Something’s rotten

All About Steve

She’s laughing. You won’t.

She’s laughing. You won’t.

Rated 1.0

Before I went to see All About Steve, I caught a glimpse of its rating on It was 5 percent, which makes it one of the worst reviewed films … ever.

As I watched the movie, which stars Sandra Bullock as an insane stalker chick, I couldn’t understand why it was so hated. It wasn’t very good, but it was far from awful, and I was getting some decent—if uncomfortable—laughs out of the thing.

By the time the movie ended, I sort of understood that Tomato rating.

For most of the running time, I kind of thought director Phil Traill and Bullock had constructed an almost decent anti-romantic comedy, fully dedicated to being awkward, sinister and touched in the head. Since I sit through a seemingly endless stream of formulaic romantic comedies every year, I welcome one that dares to throw a rabid possum into the movie tub.

But the movie sells out in the end in a manner so shameless and conventional I can’t even come close to recommending it. The finale turns the movie from semi-inspired lunacy to absolute turd.

Bullock plays Mary Magdalene Horowitz, maker of crossword puzzles and wearer of crazy boots. She hasn’t had sex in a long time and resides in her parents’ home with her pet hamster. Mom and Dad fix her up on a blind date, and she bemoans the notion. That is, until the date shows up, and he is the supremely hot Steve (Bradley Cooper, doing the best he can).

Sex-starved Mary attacks Steve in his van within minutes of meeting him. The verbal mess spewing from her mouth quickly overrides Steve’s need for sex, and he bails, using his work as a news cameraman as an excuse. Steve says something along the lines of “Wish you could be there!” out of fake politeness, and Mary takes this as an invitation.

Soon, Mary is following Steve as his news team stops over in Tucson, Ariz., for a hostage situation, Oklahoma for a three-legged baby, Texas for a storm, and Colorado where a pack of hearing-impaired children have fallen into a mineshaft. Hartman (Thomas Haden Church), Steve’s field reporter, finds Mary’s stalking amusing, and leaves her clues to their destinations as part of a prank. Steve is justifiably terrified.

Seriously, you have to have some balls to try to squeeze laughs out of deaf kids in a mineshaft. Bullock’s eccentric performance, while often annoying, is sometimes amusing. Church gets some good giggles out of being cruel, and Cooper does a nice job of acting scared.

Then the unthinkable happens: Traill and his writer Kim Barker (who penned the terrible License to Wed) construct an ending of impossible dignity and grace for Mary, one where her supposed faults and criminal behaviors are elevated to endearing qualities, rather than the traits of somebody who should be locked up and put on 24-hour watch. Traill actually tries to make the film a serious tearjerker, and this move is wrong, wrong, wrong.

There is no way in hell that this can work as a message movie, but that’s what it wants to be in the end. I was almost impressed with superstar Bullock’s willingness to play a completely repugnant character, only to find out that she’s trying to put one over on the audience. You see, nutjobs like Mary are to be embraced because they are unique, and because they look like Sandra Bullock.

So, yeah, this is ultimately one of the year’s worst movies, and you can expect to be insulted and assaulted by its ultimate stupidity. Lots of talent involved, working with a script that betrays them in the name of sentimental hogwash. For a moment there, I thought Sandra Bullock was pretty damned gutsy. As it turns out, she is a cinematic wimp.