Sandra Bullock (The Proposal) and Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) star in this off-the-wall comedy about a blind date gone hilariously wrong. When eccentric, but lovable, Mary gets set up with Steve, a news channel cameraman, she falls hard. He does not. Mary decides to follow Steve on a cross-country hunt for breaking news and soon finds herself entangled in the story. But despite the media storm surrounding her, Mary may just discover her true place in the world...and the man of her dreams!
Those of you who enjoy film classics have surely heard of and probably seen Joseph L. Mankiewicz's masterpiece, 'All About Eve.' This biting backstage drama from 1950 earned a record 14 Academy Award nominations, and its witty, literate script still stands as one of the finest ever produced. I bring the movie up only because it's the total antithesis of the horrendously awful, utterly pointless, completely unfunny debacle, 'All About Steve,' which will earn nothing except a few well-deserved Razzies and the umbrage of outraged audiences who wasted their time and money on this misguided, over-the-top farce. Whereas 'All About Eve' exudes style and class, 'All About Steve' is simply vile and crass.
It's no secret, if you've read any of my previous reviews, that I'm a bit partial to actress Sandra Bullock. Her perky personality, self-deprecating sense of humor, and innate warmth have brightened many potentially dreary vehicles, including 'Miss Congeniality' and 'The Proposal.' But Bullock makes a fatal error here (one even more deadly than agreeing to appear in such horrific sequels as 'Speed 2: Cruise Control' and 'Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous') and comes perilously close to killing all the rom-com goodwill she's built up over the past 15 years. As I watched 'All About Steve,' I kept trying to decide what annoyed me more – Bullock's insufferable character or the actress' grating portrayal of her. And I still haven't made up my mind.
How this ridiculous vehicle ever got the green light, let alone attracted such stars as Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, and Bradley Cooper, remains one of the great mysteries of modern film. Yes, there's a flimsy message attached to the rambling, cringe-inducing story (embrace your inner weirdo and/or crackpots are people, too), but one must endure more than an hour-and-a-half of sheer torture to find it. 'All About Steve' is labeled a romantic comedy, but it may be the only genre entry in which the object of desire spends the entire film frantically trying to escape his potential mate. Though Mary Horowitz (Bullock) may be a harmless stalker, in many ways she's much more frightening than Alex Forest in 'Fatal Attraction'…and that's saying something!
There's something about this Mary, to be sure. At the very least, she's one very odd bird. A professional crossword puzzle constructor, she's highly intelligent, but chatters incessantly, dresses strangely, and lacks the social skills necessary to forge and maintain even casual personal relationships. She meets the hunky Steve (Cooper), a cameraman for a cable news station, on a blind date and falls instantly in love. And I mean instantly! Seconds after he picks her up at her parents' house, she begins ravaging him in his car, and even after he spurns her, she continues to pursue him, doggedly tailing him across the country as he covers various news stories. It doesn't help that Steve's co-worker, reporter Hartman Hughes (Church), eggs her on just to get his colleague's goat, but even without his prodding, Mary is such a nutcase, we want just as little to do with her as Steve.
This is the type of film that has you shaking your head after the first 10 minutes, and staring in dazed disbelief for the next 89. I kept waiting for a clever retort or funny situation, but there's not one inspired moment in the whole movie. The script rambles, the direction is clunky, and the sappy turn the picture takes at the eleventh hour only drags it further down the drain (or in this case, the mineshaft). Sadly, 'All About Steve' doesn't even qualify for the "it's so bad it's good" category. At times, I almost felt like Dustin Hoffman sitting in Laurence Olivier's dentist chair in 'Marathon Man.' Yes, 'All About Steve' is that torturous, and no, it's not safe to buy, rent, or get within 50 feet of this awful film.
Do yourself a favor; rent 'All About Eve' instead.
It's too bad the plot and execution of 'All About Steve' are so pathetic, because the transfer is pretty darn good. Crisp, clear, and blemish-free, this 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encode exudes a healthy vibrancy, thanks to well-modulated contrast, a lush color palette, and a smooth film-like appearance. At times, the image errs on the bright side, but never exhibits an overblown, washed out look. Fine details and textures come through nicely, and close-ups possess plenty of sharp accents. Mary's all important red boots fairly burst with bleed-free saturation, and though none of the other hues can match such intensity (the cloudless blue sky in a few scenes, however, comes close), they often lend the picture a healthy sheen. Black levels are appropriately dense, but fleshtones often look a little orangey. No banding, noise, or other imperfections, however, distract from the antiseptic look of this new release.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is a little more active than most rom-com tracks, with a healthy surround presence that expands the sound field well. While most of the sonic action is indeed anchored up front, a few scenes take full advantage of the track's multi-channel capabilities. The tornado sequence especially ramps up the rear activity, and some subtle details in the mine shaft scenes provide essential ambient accents that lend a hokey situation a touch of realism. Dialogue always comes through clearly, and the various soundtrack tunes possess above average dynamic range and fidelity. Bass frequencies run a little on the anemic side, however, but this type of movie doesn't require much low-end punch. This is certainly one of the better romantic comedy audio tracks I've heard, but the film itself is so weak, I doubt I'll ever sample it again.
A healthy spate of supplements perk up this disc, and ease the pain of the main feature. Almost all the material is in high-def, so that's a plus.
Certainly a front-runner for the dubious honor of worst movie of 2009, 'All About Steve' proves all the talent in the world can't mask or even salvage a bad idea. This light-hearted look at a kooky stalker and her hunky yet obnoxious prey may have been a lark to make, but it's torture to watch, even in the splendor of 1080p. Fine video and audio and a slew of extras can't rescue this painful comedy, which like the film's heroine, should be avoided at all costs. Remember, you've been warned!