out of Five
Running time: 101
Despite its terrible reviews, All About Steve is actually surprisingly enjoyable, thanks to a strong comic cast, a handful of good gags and an admirable decision to kick against the usual romcom conventions.
What's it all about?
All About Steve stars Sandra Bullock as geeky crossword-setter Mary Horowitz, who falls head over heels for handsome news cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper) when the pair of them are set up on a blind date. Misinterpreting Steve's feelings for her, Mary follows him across the country as he travels to the sites of various breaking news stories, unaware that he thinks she's a crazy stalker.
Strictly speaking, this is more of a comedy than a romcom (arguably, it's an anti-romcom), which might account for the slew of terrible reviews it's had so far. However, once you realise what the film's actually doing (even though it doesn't always succeed), it's surprisingly enjoyable and deserves particular credit for its admirable decision to actively reject the usual romcom cliches.
Bullock (who also produced the film) delivers a wildly quirky performance that you'll either find charming or intensely annoying, depending on the strength of your Sandra Bullock love - it's probably fair to say that you're meant to find her annoying at first and then be gradually won over, which is always a tricky thing to pull off. Fortunately she's surrounded by a first-rate comic cast that includes Thomas Haden Church (hilarious as preening news reporter Hartman Hughes), Ken Jeong (reigning it in but still funny as frazzled field producer Angus) and DJ Qualls and Katy Mixon as two equally quirky oddballs who befriend Mary at a rally to save a deformed baby's third leg.
That's not to say the film doesn't have problems – the quirkiness feels forced at times, some of the jokes don't work and there are some glaring continuity errors, such as the fact that Mary drives from Texas to Colorado in what seems like a couple of hours. That said, there are a handful of surprisingly funny moments (the digs at the news networks are particularly good) and it does pull off an emotionally engaging finale that's both unexpected and oddly moving.
All About Steve won't appeal to everyone but it's by no means the disaster its terrible reviews are making it out to be and is ultimately worth seeing for its attempt to do something different.