“All About Steve” unfolds like some formulaic mash-up of cardboard characters seen for the thousandth time in the big screen. Packaged as a romantic comedy but devoid of the touching elements of good comedy and romance, the movie’s all-out, gawky commitment to comic flair doesn’t serve it well. It’s often times bland and consistently preposterous.
Its quirky bearing attempts to show the power of words in the character of Sandra Bullock as a tediously kooky constructor of crossword puzzles for a Sacramento newspaper. However, nothing much render authentically while watching the film. And perhaps, its kind of saving grace is that there are still a couple of goofs working to induce some laughs that can already be acceptable to the regular moviegoers who do not demand for a high quality cinematic offer for their paid tickets.
Bullock as the eccentric crossword puzzle constructor Mary Horowitz who falls in love for the handsome cable news cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper) after their short blind date both works and does not work. Generally, she can pull off such a fluffily quirky character with her talent and on-screen charm. Yet, the very film itself falls short on maximizing what she can do for it. Here, the heroine’s peculiar desperation makes the audience feel more pity for her than actually rooting for her.
The movie meshes with too many ideas without sticking to one solid track, leaving the main character flailing in such a ridiculous role. Worse, as nothing much feels authentic even in a screwball comedy sense, it even elicits unintentional giggles at certain times that it actually seeks to deliver a serious message.
The idea behind “All About Steve” has some potential, but then it slides off into a hokey succession of comic events. Without any footing in reality, not much of the characters are recognizable enough in the sphere of human existence that further hinders the viewers to actually relate to such supposedly possible situations in a person’s life. The audience could care less about these superficial and too animated characters rendered in a not so good light. It’s low on laughs and satirical bite because its kind of humor comes from awkwardness.
It’s a sort of anti-romance romantic comedy that could have worked if the script and direction were improved. Yet the film is unable to control the poor tone of the scenes which considerably leaves the audience unsure whether to laugh or cry by the film’s climax. There are some discontinuities that are very apparent as well. One particular scene to show this is when Mary writes the truck driver’s license number on her left arm in black permanent marker during the hitching a ride scene. However, when she gets out of the truck as the same day moves forward, there is nothing written on her arm anymore.
The characters seem based around the shrillest, most obvious characters imaginable. As a goofball ugly ducking type, Bullock is in between a socially awkward character and an annoying weirdo who stalks the instant love of her life. Something that this movie glaringly lacks is the combination of comic wits and charming humor. There is a minor elevation of emotional resonance by the last part of the film through hardcore sellout music and mainstream formulaic juxtaposition of shots. Yet, even the supposedly key parts like when Mary tearfully confesses that she wears her red boots because they make her toes “feel like ten friends on a camping trip,” it doesn’t sell enough as how it is intended to be.
Cooper’s Steve, along with the other major and supporting cast members try their best to deliver such outlandish, cartoony characters. However, the film’s issue on script and treatment doesn’t really work out to their advantage. Thomas Haden Church as Hartman Hughes attempts to throw in some good hearty laughs. Stereotype is what Ken Jeong as Angus and Mary’s newfound fellow weirdo friends radiate. And too bad, this latest entry on Bullock’s long list of movies aren’t even close to the type of screwball comedy she is capable of making.