AWFJ Women On Film – “All About Steve” – Susan Granger reviews

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Who would have guessed that teaming Sandra Bullock, who scored in “The Proposal,” and Bradley Cooper, so terrific in “The Hangover,” would result in this grotesque comedy, a prime candidate for Worst Picture of the Year?

Incessantly chattering Mary Magdalene Horowitz (Bullock) is a cruciverbalist (a.k.a. creator of crossword puzzles) who still lives with her Jewish/Catholic parents in Sacramento, California, and always wears the same red go-go boots. She’s supposed to be adorable. But she isn’t. She’s psychologically disturbed – and extremely annoying.

So it’s understand able that when her parents fix her up on a blind-date with Steve (Cooper), a cameraman for a cable news network, he’s quickly turned off by her motor-mouth blathering, particularly when she compares their sudden coupling to “two rare-earth elements brought together by the Norns – that’s Scandinavian for the destinies.”

But Mary’s revved up and ready to run after him – to a hostage crisis in Tucson and a protest at an Oklahoma City hospital, where “pro-leggers” are arguing whether to amputate a baby’s third leg. Then with two strangers (D.J. Qualls and Katy Mixon), she’s off to Galveston in a ’76 Gremlin, encouraged by Steve’s colleague, reporter Hartman Hughes (Thomas Hayden-Church). That’s where she falls down an old mineshaft with a deaf child (Delaney Hamilton).

Screenwriter Kim Barker (”License to Wed’) witlessly delves for humor in birth defects and stalking, while director Phil Traill clumsily sucks the amusement out of every awkward scene. Not only is Sandra Bullock wretchedly miscast – but she did it to herself. She’s one of the producers. Perky Ms. Bullock prefers to play likeable, socially clumsy heroines (“Miss Congeniality,” “While You Were Sleeping,” “Forces of Nature”) but Mary’s just dreadfully deluded.

Twice, Mary lists the three elements of any successful crossword puzzle: “Is it solvable? Is it entertaining? Does it sparkle?” If those criteria were applied to this comedy, the answers would be no, no and no. So on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “All About Steve” is an irritating, inexcusable 1. It’s a total waste of time and talent.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.