How to Watch: “All About Steve”

all-about-steve-imgStep 1: Stick with the premise. The idea behind All About Steve has some potential, but then it slides off into hokey-ville.

Step 2: Don’t worry about knowing that much about Steve (Bradley Cooper). Besides being a hunk, he isn’t that interesting of a guy. Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) is the one you really get to know all about. She is an eccentric newspaper crossword puzzle maker, a glass half-full kind of gal, with a fountain of information in her head she’ll recite to anyone who’ll listen. When she sees Steve for the first time on their blind date, she decides right there that he’s the one. He, on the other hand, immediately sees major red flags and bolts before the date is over, but – being a nice guy – sort of inadvertently mentions he is going on location for his job as a news cameraman, and too bad she can’t tag along. Mary thinks it’s a real invitation and so goes off to find Steve and convince him they are meant to be together. And then it gets reeeeeeally silly.

Step 3: Watch Sandra Bullock find her inner Happy-Go-Lucky-ness. I would put several dollars down Bullock saw the heartfelt indie film starring Sally Hawkins and decided to create a similar character, except this time as a stalker with a sunny deposition. Bullock’s Mary, like Hawkins’ Poppy, even wears the same pair of boots (red in Mary’s case) all the time because, as Mary says, “it makes her toes feel like 10 friends on a camping trip.” If Bullock hadn’t committed 110 percent to this wacky, slightly creepy character, All About Steve would have been a total failure. To be honest, she is fun to watch in this since it departs from anything she’s ever done in comedy before — just not quite enough of a departure.

all_about_steve_2009_814x500_322503Step 4: Use the rest of the cast as window dressing. It actually is All About Sandra; no one else really stands out. Cooper is the straight, cute man but doesn’t get to do much. As Steve cohorts, Thomas Haden Church and Ken Jeong, as the blowhard news reporter and meek producer, respectively, are completely wasted – especially Jeong, who up to this point, as almost stolen every comedy he’s been in (Knocked Up, Role Models, The Hangover) with his twisted sense of humor. What a shame.

Step 5: See Step 1. The weird crossword puzzle lady with an optimistic spirit and a penchant for stalking is FUNNY. All About Steve in the hands of, say, someone like The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips or Role Models‘ David Wain, could have been a hysterical (maybe even R-rated) dark comedy. Bullock could have pulled off a more off-colored performance if she wanted to – and we would have applauded her for it. But I’m sure she didn’t want to go too far for fear of losing her audience and plays it safe. Bullock (who also produced) wants to end up being the spunky heroine falling into an abandoned mine shaft and saving a deaf kid (told you it got silly) instead of the crazy chick. Like I said, they missed some great opportunities inherit in the idea.

Level of difficulty watching All About Steve: Moderately eh. Now that she’s back, I’m hoping Sandra Bullock will at some point finally go out on a limb with her comedic talents.