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All About Steve (2009)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/22/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Audio: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/1/2010

I've never run a marathon before. (If I'm going to run 26 miles, there had better be something other than a bucket of endorphins waiting at the end.) However, I can imagine what running a marathon would be like -- it would be grueling, hard work, but knowing that it would eventually end, I would simply endure it and fight through until the end. Some movies are like this -- every moment is sheer agony, but knowing that you, my reader, is depending on me for a review, I give it my all. All About Steve fits this definition perfectly.

Sandra Bullock stars in All About Steve as Mary Horowitz, a woman who creates crossword puzzles for a living. She is highly intelligent and lives with her parents (she claims that her apartment is being fumigated). Mary is very socially awkward and doesn't realize that she doesn't know how to interact with others. And, for some reason, she always wears red boots. Mary's parents arrange a blind date for her with Steve (Bradley Cooper), a television news cameraman. About two minutes into the date, Mary throws herself at Steve. At first, he is flattered, but he soon fears that she may be crazy. He feigns a call from work, claiming that he needs to go to Boston, and makes an offhand remark that he wished that she could accompany him. The next day, Mary loses her job. She takes this as a cosmic sign that she should go after Steve. Through bus, hitchhiking, and good Samaritan, Mary makes her way cross-country, pursuing Steve as he tackles various assignments. Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church), the reporter with which Steve works, doesn't help things by encouraging Mary to continue her pursuit. How can Steve let this woman know that he isn't interested?

The box for All About Steve states "From the Producer of Miss Congeniality". As far as I can tell, the only producer which the two films share is Sandra Bullock. So, therefore, all blame rests squarely on her shoulders. Not only because she help to put this project together and had a hand in deciding that it would make a good movie. No, Bullock must be blamed because Mary is the lynchpin of the film and it's Mary who makes the entire affair unbearable.

This can be broken down into two parts. First of all, there's Mary as she's written. We get very little character development with her -- all that we know is that she knows a lot of trivia, has a large vocabulary, and has poor social skills. I noticed that I wrote above that Mary is intelligent, but that's actually never established in the movie. Knowing a lot of things and being smart are quite different. We don't learn if Mary really does have an apartment which is being "fumigated" or if she's ever been on a real date before, or why she wears the red boots. With her cache of knowledge and her odd behavior, the movie wants to portray Mary as someone akin to Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. But, Sheldon is funny and likable, and this character comes off as something like an abrasive Rain Man. Secondly, we have the way in which Bullock portrays Mary. I don't know how Bullock feels about herself in real life, but she has a history of playing "cute and likable" characters who are "the girl next door" and we're supposed to accept her as "Sandy". She tries to bring this to Mary and it simply doesn't work. Abrasive and cute are an odd combination and the result is caustic. Perhaps there are people who liked Mary, but I didn't, and thus the rest of the movie collapsed around her.

Mary's wreckage of the film is a shame, as the supporting characters and actors are good. While Bradley Cooper gives it his all, he honestly seems to be as lost as the rest of us as to how to take Mary. Thomas Haden Church once again plays an ignorant self-absorbed character and the movie is certainly more tolerable when he is on-screen. DJ Qualls has a small role in the film and it's good to see him back -- remember when it seemed like he was in every movie? As many have noted, Bullock has had a good year with The Proposal and The Blind Side. Now if only she could take back All About Steve.

All About Steve destroys an umbrella on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. There are many exterior daytime scenes in this film and these moments have a notable crispness to them. The picture displays a nice amount of depth (again, in those daytime shots) and the level of detail is good as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are good and show a nice amount of separation. The surround sound effects, most notably when the bad weather arrives, are very good -- surprisingly good for a comedy. The finale offers some nicely-timed subwoofer effects.

The All About Steve Blu-ray Disc contains a number of extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer Kim Barker, Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong, and Director Phil Traill. The Disc contains six DELETED/ALTERNATE SCENES which run about 9 minutes and can be viewed with optional audio commentary. There are a few extra moments with Church, which is always a good thing. We get a 5 minute GAG REEL which has optional commentary. "Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong's A Capella Duet" (2 minutes), which has optional commentary, is just weird. "Hollywood Dish with Mena Micheletti" (18 minutes) is a fake entertainment news show with Kerri Kenney-Silver posing as a reporter. This becomes a sort of making of as "Mena" interviews the cast. "All About All About Steve" (11 minutes) is a brief making-of featurette which focuses on the writing and the characters. "Crew Snapshots to Mary's Rap" (3 minutes) is exactly what it sounds like. "Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School with Phil Traill" (24 minutes) is an interviews with the director where he discusses the film and his views on directing.

Review Copyright 2010 by Mike Long