Romantic comedies have to do two things: provide an appealing romance and throw out the occasional witticism. The majority of these films can provide the smallest bit of one or the other, and some fall flat on their faces. All About Steve banks heavily on its two stars who have helmed successful films this summer, Bradley Cooper and Sandra Bullock, but it's all for naught in this romantic comedy that lacks romance or comedy.
Mary Horowitz (Bullock) is an odd duck. She writes the crosswords for a local Sacramento paper, knows excessive amounts of random trivia, and jumps on a guy the first time she meets him. When she encounters Steve (Cooper), she thinks she's found the one, and he thinks she's a nutcase. A throwaway line from Steve becomes a cross-country journey for Mary whose determined to win the man's heart, whether he likes it or not.
All About Steve is interesting in how hard it tries to be an unconventional romantic comedy. The film doesn't follow the typical “boy meets girl” routine and has these two characters be complete opposites, but Mary's mistaken thoughts on true love force her to stalk him. The humor comes from the fact that Mary has no knowledge of men so her actions are lost on her, but are disturbing to everyone else. The movie also blends several different genres besides romance, including road trip movies and the classic “finding who you are” type films. The ending is also a tad unconventional as the romance is not forced onto the characters. Whether they end up together or not, their motives are realistic and it doesn't feel they change in order to be compatible.
Other than that it's hard to find anything enjoyable about the movie. After being delayed a few times it seems the movie only garnered a release to capitalize on Bullock and Cooper's recent successes and it's easy to see this was a film that they did for the paycheck. The biggest issue is that the movie is not funny in the slightest. The best jokes are the promo ones in the movie and they all come from the supporting cast, none of the main actors have any fun lines. Mary's character has pointless narration that grates on your nerves depending on if you like the character and it's odd considering said narration doesn't do anything to further the plot, it's more of a “ending chapter” type voiceover. If this were any other genre of movie Mary would be considered a nutcase and that's All About Steve's biggest problem, you never root for Mary because she's insane. Her character openly stalks someone, she has inappropriate conversations with strangers, all of these do not make her character endearing. The movie also loses all semblance of plot at the end when Mary ends up trapped in a mine. The last twenty minutes are pure stupidity and while the subplot is meant to make you sad, it's really a bummer and seems slapped in to force a last minute likeability of Mary's character. While the ending tries to be unconventional, once you see it, it makes the preceding ninety minutes feel like a total waste.
The cast also fails miserably in this film. Bullock, rocking a terrible wig and a ridiculous lisp, comes off as wide eyed and hyper. Her mannerisms are so over the top you're waiting for her to stop to take some meds or something. Cooper is in a thankless role as the hot guy who isn't interested and you never learn anything, at all, about him as a person. The supporting cast is all over the charts in terms of success. Thomas Haden Church revisits the loveable jerk but a major plot hole develops in that he keeps spurring Mary on to follow Steve because of some unknown slight that happened between the two although it's never explained. Ken Jeong provides some slight comic relief but can anyone take him seriously after the hangover. DJ Qualls and Katy Mixon are fun in their brief roles, but like much of the cast, they're wasted.
All About Steve is dumb, plain and simple. The plot is insane, the seems bored, and you never really care if Mary and Steve hook up. This is a stinker of a movie and should be avoided by everyone. The movie gets a lukewarm 1.5/5.