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All About Steve(2009)
When eccentric, but lovable, Mary gets set up with Steve, a news channel cameraman, she falls hard. He does not. Mary decides to follow Steve on a cross-country hunt for breaking news and soon finds herself entangled in the story. But despite the media storm surrounding her, Mary may just discover her true place in the world...and the man of her dreams!
For more about All About Steve and the All About Steve Blu-ray release, see the All About Steve Blu-ray Review
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong
Director: Phil Traill
» See full cast & crew
All About Steve Blu-ray Review
“In life, as in crosswords, some days are harder than others.”
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, December 28, 2009
It's also true that, when reviewing films, some days are harder than others. And the hardest days, for me, are those when I have the unenviable duty of sitting down for 90 minutes with a torturously inept movie like All About Steve, a misguided rom-com that's short on romance and completely void of comedy. I can handle a drama that underperforms, so long as the story isn't a total snoozer. A bad sci-fi film might yield a few interesting concepts, and I'll even suffer through a poorly made horror movie on the off chance that it contains one good pants-soiling scare. But there's nothing so brain-numbingly awful as a romantic comedy that fizzles out like a dud firework. You know that feeling you get when you light the fuse, run fifteen feet away, and watch as the powder fails to ignite? That feeling that says, I don't want to go anywhere near that thing because it'll probably blow up in my face? That's the feeling I got when I when I finished watching the aborted launch of All About Steve, and realized that I still had to write a review. I didn't want to go anywhere near it. But duty calls, and I'm all decked out like the soldiers in The Hurt Locker, ready to defuse this rom-com bomb. Don't call me a hero though, ma'am. I'm just doing my job.
Kate Hudson must've had the day off as rom-com queen, because Sandra Bullock stars in All About Steve as Mary Magdalene Horowitz, a "kooky" 30-something cruciverbalist—that's a crossword puzzle-creator, for all you non-crosswordsy types—who lives with her parents, carries on conversations with her pet hamster, and who wears cherry red, high-heeled patent leather boots at all times because they make her toes "feel like ten friends on a camping trip." In other words, she's not "normal," as the film goes to great, unnecessary lengths to establish. Bummed out when a class of junior high kids make fun of her at a school career day, Mary decides it's time to be a functional adult and agrees to go on a blind date with handsome news cameraman Steve Mueller (Bradley Cooper). Only, she basically tries to jump his bones five minutes after meeting him, and her incessant ADHD-fueled spewing of random factoids turns out to be a total turnoff for Steve, who thinks she's absolutely bugnuts insane. Of course, Mary doesn't catch the I don't ever, ever, ever want to see you again subtext of Steve's polite declining of her advances. The next day, Mary gets fired from her job at the Sacramento Herald for writing a crossword puzzle with clues that are literally all about Steve, and so she decides it's her destiny pursue him across the country with her newfound free time.
Essentially a road trip movie, All About Steve follows Mary as she stalks her camera- toting love interest from one newsworthy event to the next, including a hostage situation, a tornado, a baby born with three legs, and—wait for it—a group of deaf children falling down a mine shaft. Even at a mere 98 minutes, the cumulative journey seems to take forever, and with every lame turn of the plot I found myself asking, "Are we there yet?" Along the way, Mary learns the oh-so-valuable lesson that it's okay not to be normal, and that her individuality is a special—and I mean special—gift. This coming from a bland, personality-free film that's notable only in how unbelievably hackneyed it is. I take that first part back. The film does have a personality—it's shallow, depressive, and obnoxiously disingenuous. But contrary to All About Steve's overzealously proclaimed message, there's nothing special or even remotely likeable about the film's forced kookiness, especially when it comes to the character of Mary, whose eccentricities seem affected and inauthentic. Sandra Bullock induces one wince after another here, as she prattles on and on and on in what frequently feels like a bad imitation of a Tourette's-suffering savant. There's a scene where a Greyhound bus driver gets fed up with Mary's non-stop commentary and ditches her at a roadside diner. Here, I wished I could keep riding the bus, if only to watch Mary recede out of the film in its dusty wake.
I feel sorry for the other actors, who have naught to do but react to crazy Mary's what'll-she- think-of-next antics. Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) has it the worst, as he's forced to play the straight man, endlessly surprised, shocked, and even a little scared by Mary's perseverance. The film's few laughs—and I could count them on the tines of three-pronged fork— come mainly from Thomas Hayden Church and Ken Jeong. Church is the self-satisfied news correspondent that Steve travels around with—he's so tan he looks "like a cheese nip"—and Jeong is their producer and "chaperone." There's also a bit part for the always nebbish DJ Qualls, playing a "lovable" weirdo—he's Mary's male counterpart—who makes a living carving vaguely creepy faces on apples. All of the players fumble awkwardly through writer Kim Barker's preachy and tonally helter-skelter script, and first-time director Phil Traill gets nowhere close to the elusive rom-com sweet spot, delivering an uninspired product—and this film is definitely nothing more than a product—that fails to engage or entertain on any level. For a film that supposedly celebrates peculiarity, All About Steve is as prosaic as they come.
All About Steve Blu-ray, Video Quality
All About Steve, like many films of its genre, features that distinctive rom-com look, characterized by lighting that's bright but flat, revealing but uninteresting. For what it is, though, the film looks better than expected on Blu-ray, sporting a 1.85:1-framed, 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's colorful and well defined. There are a few soft shots—like when Mary is soaking in the tub—but most of the film is more than adequately resolved, with a generally crisp reproduction of texture and fine detail. Likewise, color saturation is strong, and the film provides ample opportunity to show off bold hues, like Mary's bright red boots, the vivid blue ink of her felt-point pens, and Ken Jeong's purple terrycloth robe. Black levels are deep, and aside from some blown highlights during a few outdoor scenes in harsh sunlight, contrast runs pleasantly hot throughout. Skin tones, though, do have a tendency to appear overly yellowish, making everyone look unnaturally tan. But perhaps that's intentional. The film's grain structure is apparent but never obtrusive, and I noticed no overt compression issues or other transfer-related anomalies.
All About Steve Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Most rom-coms feature front-heavy, dialogue-driven audio experiences, and for the majority of its run-time, All About Steve's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track follows suite. However, as the film includes a few hectic newsworthy events—not to mention a tornado—this track does get a few chances to open up and go full throttle. The tornado sequence, specifically, has wind whipping furiously through the rear speakers, along with flying bits of debris zipping here and there. You'll also hear thunder and rain filling the soundfield, a helicopter chopping through the surround channels, and lots of quiet but noticeable ambience. The music also sounds decent, with tight bass and plenty of detail. Cumulatively, it's not quite enough to make audiophiles' ears perk up, but the film is no slouch in the audio department, especially for a romantic comedy. My sole complaint would be that the dialogue occasionally sounds a bit too low in the mix. Otherwise, this track does just what it needs to do.
All About Steve Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Writer Kim Barker, director Phil Traill, and actors Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, and Ken Jeong all sit down for a laugh-filled track that's far funnier and more entertaining than the film itself.
Deleted / Alternate Scenes (1080p, 9:14)
Hey, nine more minutes of kooky Mary, available with optional commentary by the aforementioned participants.
Gag Reel (1080p, 5:29)
Flubbed lines, missed cues, and uncontrollable laughter, with optional commentary.
Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong's A Capella Duet (1080p, 1:42)
Here, Cooper and Jeong sing a truly horrible improvised song while appearing in several of the film's scenes via the magic of green screen. Commentary is optional.
Hollywood Dish with Mena Micheletti (1080i, 17:47)
They should've just gotten Mena Micheletti to play Mary, because she basically is the character. This is a fake behind-the-scenes featurette, basically, where Mena goes around set interviewing the stars of the film and acting obnoxiously.
All About All About Steve (1080p, 10:38)
Okay, this is the real behind-the-scenes featurette, including interviews with writer Kim Baker, director Phil Traill, and the various stars. Pretty standard stuff.
Crew Snapshots to Mary's Rap (1080p, 3:26)
This is as bad as it sounds. Someone actually wrote a rap about Mary, which plays over a bunch of cast and crew photographs.
Fox Movie Channel Presents Life After Film School with Phil Traill (SD, 23:42)
In Life After Film School, three current film school students interview a member of the industry. Here, director Phil Traill talks about how he became a filmmaker and gives some helpful advice.
Trailers (1080p, 4:46 total)
Includes trailers for (500) Days of Summer and Adam.
All About Steve Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Banal. Trite. Uninspired. Cliché. Insipid. I could run through a thesaurus' worth of synonyms trying to describe All About Steve's harebrained plot, insufferable performances, and clumsy direction. But let's not waste words. In this case, it's simply not worth it. All About Steve should be avoided at all costs—even if it drops below $5 on Amazon.
Blu-ray bundles with All About Steve (1 bundle)
All About Steve Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - December 22nd - December 22, 2009
Typically, the week before Christmas lacks big name releases due to studios admission that the majority of holiday shopping has already taken place, and there is no room for last minute purchases like a new Blu-ray release. In fact, the week after Christmas is ...
• All About Steve Blu-ray Gets Detailed - October 31, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'All About Steve', which is scheduled to hit store shelves on December 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented ...
• All About Steve is All About Blu-ray - October 16, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has revealed that they will bring the Sandra Bullock and Thomas Haden Church comedy 'All About Steve' to Blu-ray on December 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Technical specs have ...
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