It’s hard to imagine what goes through the minds of those who make movies like All About Steve. Drowning in cliché social criticisms, the film plays like we’ve seen it a hundred times before, failing to generate any inkling of sympathy for the characters involved while desperately attempting to reel in all possible fans with its version of Apatow-esque comedy.
All About Steve tells the story of Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock), a quirky and talkative crossword puzzle creator, who follows a news cameraman, Steve (Bradley Cooper), around the country after he inadvertently invites her along during a less-than-successful blind date. After experiencing multiple newsworthy events, viewers are taken to a final location where Mary becomes the center of the news frenzy.
All About Steve is more like a fairytale than a realistic portrayal of life and relationships. The film tries to delegate a childlike message of “be true to yourself,” but takes it to an extreme with stereotypes and a black-and-white outlook that ends up with a downright disturbing lesson: weirdos and “normal” society do not belong as one.
This theme is supported throughout the entire film as Mary tries to inject herself into normality, but fails to do so in every attempt. Although the ending is a very predictable amalgamation of good feelings, it still very much fosters the attitude of segregation that the rest of the film exhibits throughout.
Mary as a character is a socially inept know-it-all who is obsessed with words and the use thereof. An out of place voice-over narration sprinkled throughout the film (a common technique utilized by scriptwriters who don’t know how to get their message across by ways of more skillful means such as character interaction and dialogue) features Mary babbling about words and their meanings and how it relates to her life.
This technique trades subtlety for blatancy, literally telling the audience exactly what they should be thinking about and the connection between vocabulary and Mary’s life philosophy. This aggravation is both belittling and boring, as it assumes the audience isn’t capable of figuring out the intricacies of Mary’s character on their own.
The humor of All About Steve is typical and blasé for the most part, but I did find myself smiling on occasion. Steve and his two companions, Hartman (Thomas Haden Church) and Angus (Ken Jeong), make up a fairly entertaining trio as they bicker around the nation in a news van.
After giving it some thought, I am completely stumped as to why films like All About Steve exist. It was never going to be a giant blockbuster, nor an Academy Award winner, nor an art-house cult classic. It seems All About Steve was destined to be a forgettable, stereotypical venture into relationships and self-discovery unable to win over audiences already accustomed to more intelligent and poignant 2009 romantic comedies such as (500) Days of Summer and Away We Go.