ALL ABOUT STEVE is meant to be a comedy, but I left the theater feeling a deep sense of tragedy. Poor Sandra Bullock: She's an actress that everyone seems to love to hate, but up until now, she didn't deserve half the flak and sarcasm she's suffered in a world full of far-less-likeable Jennifer Anistons and Renée Zellwegers. But that was then, and this is now: All About Steve is so amazingly awful that it makes The Proposal of just a few short months ago look like a faraway zenith of poise and dignity forever out of Bullock's grasp. Hopefully nobody will see it.

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Bullock—though she's aging beautifully—is far too old to play Mary, a spazzy, naïve, socially ungifted crossword puzzle creator who has uncomfortably little-girl tics, like wearing cheap shiny red go-go boots, talking to her hamster, and jumping up and down while squealing and clapping her hands. Mary lives with her parents, who set her up on a blind date with Steve (Bradley Cooper), a TV news cameraman who she finds so attractive that she jumps into his lap within the first five minutes of their date. Thus kicks off the pathetic tale of Mary following a terrified Steve across the country to various breaking news stories while his anchor, Hugh Hartman (Thomas Haden Church, giving the only remotely funny performance here), eggs her on for his own amusement. Along the way, she annoys a bus full of passengers so badly that the driver ditches her at a truck stop, gets stuck in a tornado/cicada swarm, and falls into an abandoned mine.

The message of All About Steve's story is supposed to be one of recognizing your own uniqueness and not being afraid if your life doesn't conform to society's expectations. It works better, though, as an illustration of the moral imperative to let someone know when they're about to take their film career on a walk right off a cliff.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30