Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Movie Review: All About Steve

All About Steve ½ *
Directed By: Phil Traill.
Written By: Kim Barker.
Starring: Sandra Bullock (Mary Horowitz), Thomas Haden Church (Hartman), Bradley Cooper (Steve), Ken Jeong (Angus), DJ Qualls (Howard), Keith David (Corbitt), Howard Hesseman (Mr. Horowitz), Beth Grant (Mrs. Horowitz), Katy Mixon (Elizabeth), M.C. Gainey (Norm), Holmes Osborne (Soloman), Delaney Hamilton (Little Deaf Girl), Jason Jones (Vasquez).

All About Steve is a disturbing movie about a psychopathic stalker disguised as a romantic comedy. It stars the normally lovable Sandra Bullock playing a woman who is delusional in the extreme, and freakishly follows a man, Steve (Bradley Cooper) across the country after an abbreviated blind date; because she thinks they are destined to be together. Even after he makes it clear to her that he has no interest in her, she just keeps on coming back - again and again and again. This is the type of woman that they invented restraining orders for.

Bullock is Mary Horowitz, who makes her living - such as it is - creating one crossword puzzle a week for the San Antonio Herald. She is getting older, and is single, and has no prospects. We know why this is - because Mary is the most annoying person in the history of the world. She talks non-stop, using big words no else understands, and spouting off a lot of trivial knowledge no one cares about. At one point she is thrown off of a bus because she will not shut up.

Her parents set her up with Steve, who is the son of a friend of theirs. Rather than actually go out on a date, Mary jumps Steve as soon as they get back to his van, and while at first he is into it, soon Mary is rambling incoherently again, and he starts to wonder about her. When he is called away on business - he is a camera man who CCN, a cable news network, before they can really get going, he is relieved. After telling her that “it would great if you were on the road with us”, he leaves, and hopes never to see her again. No such luck, as Mary finds out where Steve is heading, and heads out there as well. For reasons known only to him, Hartman (Thomas Haden Church) the reporter Steve is partnered with, tells Mary that Steve is really in love with her, so no matter what he says, she needs to be persistent. He keeps telling her where they are heading next, and so Mary makes her way from Arizona where a hostage situation is, to Oklahoma, where the reporters are covering the legal battle over a three little baby, to Texas where Hurricane is hitting to Colorado, where a group of deaf children have fallen down an old mine shaft. In each location, Steve tells Mary he wants nothing to do with her, Hartman tells her that he really loves her, and Mary just keeps acting like crazy Mary. No one other than Steven seems to think there is much wrong with Mary. She’s cute, she funny, she’s smart, but Steve wants nothing to do with her, because he, like the audience knows, that Mary is a delusional psycho.

I suppose that if done properly, this may actually make a decent romantic comedy. Sleepless in Seattle, after all, is also about stalker, and people seem to love that one for some unknown reason. But the movie is incompetent on every level. The screenplay by Kim Barker could just be the worst of the year. It is full of one dimensional characters, sloppy storytelling, and dialogue that is supposed to be funny, but falls completely flat. The direction by Phil Traill is no better. He seems to have no flair for his chosen profession. The shots in the film are awkwardly framed, and the editing is jarringly bad. Most direct to DVD movies have better production values than this one does.

Watching the film, I kept wondering what everyone involved in this movie was thinking. Bullock is never going to win an Oscar, but in romcom mode, she is usual cute and funny. Here, she’s just creepy. I kept wondering where the filmmakers were going in this movie, because it is clear from the opening scenes of the film that Mary is mentally not all there, and should probably be institutionalized for her own, not to mention society’s, safety. But the message of this film seems to be that Mary simply needs to be comfortable with herself, and that she does not need to change. But I disagree - she really does need to change. Her supporting cast isn’t much better, Bradley Cooper is good looking sure, but with the exception of The Hangover, I have never really been impressed with him. Thomas Haden Church, so great in Sideways five years ago, here is playing a vacant empty newscaster, and while he does as best he can with the role, his motivations are never made clear. He has a few decent zingers, but really, he is as bad as the best of them. The rest of the cast is equally bad, although I must admit I spent much of the movie mesmerized by Katy Mixon, who plays Mary’s new found best friends, breasts. They are so big; I kept expecting her to suffocate herself with them.

All About Steve is one of the most annoying films of the year; No one involved in this film seemed to thinking clearly when they made this film. It is a legitimate contender for the year’s worst film.

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