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Films: All about Steve *

There's a reason why the producers had left this 'rom-com' on the shelf -- it stinks

On the surface it would appear that All About Steve should be in with a good shout in the 2010 rom-com stakes. Okay, the title is a bit iffy -- you play with the title of one of the greatest movies of all time at your peril around these parts -- but surely the pairing of Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper -- the devilishly handsome chap from The Hangover -- couldn't possibly fail given even half-decent material to work with? Oh dear, how wrong you would be.

The warning bells start clanging when you discover that the film was actually shot in 2007 and has been sitting on a shelf gathering dust since then. So why would the studio wait so long to release this product? It becomes clear within five minutes that All About Steve is on an express elevator to rom-com hell and the only possible explanation for allowing it to escape into cinemas is that because Bullock had a huge hit with The Proposal and Cooper with The Hangover there's every likelihood that punters can be duped into seeing them together, thus recouping at least some of the production costs on an opening weekend until toxic word-of-mouth sends it back to the dungeon where it deserves to rot from here to eternity.

Bullock's character is Mary Horowitz, a crossword compiler for a newspaper who we're clearly meant to regard as kooky but is, in fact, nothing short of mentally ill. She is set up on a blind date with news cameraman Steve (Cooper), who quickly realises she's nuts and gets the hell away as soon as he can, only for her to stalk him across the country.

Bullock's overpowering and genuinely offputting performance overshadows whatever potential the movie may have had -- and the secondary story about Steve, an egotistical reporter (Thomas Haden Church) and their beleaguered producer (Ken Jeong) could actually have made a decent central story in itself -- but even by the halfway stage you're reckoning that this is actually the leading lady's worst movie. Yep, even worse than Miss Congeniality 2 and Speed 2: Cruise Control.

The overall verdict? Well, as Mary Horowitz would probably put it: Tie Sad Loofah (anag) (1,4,2,5). - GB