I’ve adored Sandra Bullock ever since she played a nerdy scientist in Love Potion No. 9. She further charmed me with her roles in Speed, While You Were Sleeping, Hope Floats, Forces of Nature, Two Weeks Notice, Miss Congeniality, and, most recently, The Proposal. Heck, I even liked her in Two if By Sea, In Love and War, and The Lake House.
I always thought she could do no wrong. Until I watched All About Steve, that is. Any charm Bullock might have been able to muster in this film is lost in silly scenarios, frat-boy humor, and, for the most part, mean characters.
It’s no wonder that All About Steve took two years to get from filming to theaters, where it promptly flopped, even though Bullock knocked The Proposal out of the park three months prior. Her All About Steve costar, Bradley Cooper, also struck gold with The Hangover, which also came out three months prior to All About Steve. In other words, the powers that be were banking on the fact that Bullock and Cooper would draw an audience. And I feel so, so sorry for any suckers who shelled out hard earned money to see it.
The film is about Bullock, who plays Mary Horowitz, a chatty, lonely, awkward crossword constructor who works for the Sacramento Herald and lives and breathes crossword puzzles. (Although the film was not shot in Sacramento, Calif., there is a nice shout-out to local restaurant Ernesto’s.) Mary has no friends, and the topper is that she lives with her parents (played by Beth Grant, who costarred in Speed with Bullock, and Howard Hesseman).
When Mary is set up on a blind date with Steve (played by Cooper), Mary promptly tried to rip Steve’s clothes off, all the while babbling uncontrollably. Quickly, Steve realizes something is not quite right about Mary, and he pounces on a work emergency and brushes her off with a “wish you could come with me” exit.
After Mary creates an entire Herald crossword puzzle all about Steve, she is fired and thus has all the time in the world to chase/stalk Steve. Along the way, Mary encounters a creepy truck driver (M.C. Gainey).
Each time Mary catches up to Steve, his coworkers, anchor Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church) and stressed-out producer Angus (Ken Jeong, who costarred in The Hangover with Cooper) egg her on and try to convince her that Steve loves her. Meanwhile Steve does everything he can to avoid interacting with Mary, and the audience is supposed to find this all very funny–at Mary’s expense.
When Mary meets two oddball protestors, the dumb-but-well-endowed Elizabeth (Katy Mixon), and apple head-carving Howard (DJ Qualls), she finally starts connecting with people and forming friendships. Apparently the lesson here is that oddball people can only be friends with other oddballs.
While All About Steve is billed as a comedy, there’s not much to laugh about. I clocked it, and my first (weak) laugh occurred 37 minutes into the film. In addition, a good 80 percent of the film is devoted to making fun of Mary, with the final 20 percent delivering a nice, albeit trite, message (that “quirky people are good people, too”). By then, there’s not enough to redeem the other 80 percent of the film.
All About Steve is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and has a painfully-long 99 minute run time. Audio is offered in Dolby Digital 5.1, with Spanish and French options in Dolby Surround. Subtitles are available in English (for the hearing impaired) and Spanish.
What All About Steve lacks in the film itself, it slightly makes up for in the extras. The highlight is the audio commentary, which includes Bullock, Cooper, Church and Jeong, as well as director Phil Traill and writer Kim Barker. I didn’t find much to laugh about in the film, but the camaraderie expressed during the commentary made the film much more fun to watch. There’s a lot of making fun of each other, and they all seem to enjoy each other’s company and have fun together—too bad some of that couldn’t have translated into the film. Among the fun factoids shared is that Bullock's mother sings the aria in one scene.
Other extras include six deleted/alternate scenes (9:07) with optional commentary from the crew (minus Church); a hilarious gag reel (5:24), also with optional commentary (minus Church); Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong's A Capella Duet (1:37), with optional commentary with Cooper, Jeong and Traill; Hollywood Dish with Mena Micheletti (17:35), a fake behind-the-scenes with Reno 911! actress Kerri Kenney; All About All About Steve (10:27), featuring requisite interviews with the cast and crew; Crew Snapshots (accompanied by "Mary's Rap") (3:24); and, lastly, Fox Movie Channel presents Life After Film School with Phil Traill (23:05), in which three film students interview Traill.
I can’t in good conscience recommend All About Steve to anyone, even fans of Bullock and/or Cooper, as the only way to eek out any enjoyment would be to watch the film with the commentary on, which is not a great way to watch any film for the first time.