Movies: All About Steve *
(12A, general release)
As she proved as recently as last year in The Proposal, Sandra Bullock is probably the finest romantic comedienne of her generation, with an approachable beauty and easy comic touch that make her a most appealing everywoman.
But her wholesome range is deceptively narrow and whenever she strays too far towards the wacky, she tends to come a cropper; All About Steve being a case in point.
In fact, the Phil Traill comedy may just be the worst film she's ever made, and the odd thing is that Bullock believed in the project so much that she produced it herself. A close reading of the script ought to have had her running for the Hollywood hills.
Bullock inhabits the rather unlikely character of Mary Horowitz, an eccentric Californian woman of uncertain age who lives with her parents and is devoted to her job writing crosswords for the local newspaper. Her tendency to spout random facts and sport ungainly outfits has scared away the opposite sex, and when her parents set her up on a blind date with their friends' son, things don't go smoothly.
Mary is so keen on Steve (Bradley Cooper) that she throws herself at him before he's even started the car, and after he makes up a story in order to get shot of her, she misinterprets the whole sorry episode and decides she's in love. So much so, in fact, that she sets off across the western United States after Steve and his roving news crew, much to his horror.
Thomas Haden Church plays a megalomaniac news reporter, and a decent supporting cast includes Ken Jeong and DJ Qualls, but, despite their best efforts, this woefully unsubtle comedy never gets off the ground.
Kim Barker's script is the biggest culprit in this regard, and some of the writing is truly lamentable, but Bullock's miscasting doesn't help things either. Despite annoying red boots and a frightful haircut, she's very difficult to take seriously as someone who would repulse men and as the film blunders on, her attempts to persuade us otherwise become ever more shrill and clumsy.