Movie Mom

Movie Mom

All About Steve

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content including innuendos
Profanity:Some strong language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and situation, some crude, woman attempts to have sex with a man she has just met
Violence/Scariness:Characters in peril, no one badly hurt
Diversity Issues:Some insensitive treatment of disabled characters
Movie Release Date:September 4, 2009

Somewhere deep inside this movie, like the little tiny pea in the bed of the princess, is an idea that could have been an interesting movie. Unfortunately, as with that bed of the princess, it is smothered in 20 mattresses of awful and 20 more mattresses of just plain dumb. Warning: the screenplay is by Kim Barker, who was also responsible for the execrable “License to Wed.” Two strikes and Barker should be out for good.

Sandra Bullock produced, so she is responsible for both Barker and casting herself in the lead role, plays Mary Magdalene Horowitz, a cruciverbalist (constructor of crossword puzzles) who has gone way past endearingly quirky and well into the land of the annoying oddball. It could be kind of goofily charming that she wears the same red boots all the time. It could be sort of intriguing that she has some of that Adam-style social dyslexia. But instead she is the kind of person who recites endless random arcana and then, when told to be quiet, lists several entirely audible synonyms for silence. As happens so often in this movie, she gets the letter but not the spirit of what people are saying to her.

So, when she sees Bradley Cooper (the title Steve), a news station cameraman, she immediately jumps on him, which he quickly realizes is too good to be true. He scrapes her off like gum off the bottom of his shoe, and she then commits career suicide and follows him to a series of increasingly un-funny news stories he is covering. Even the always-welcome appearances of top character actors like Beth Grant (glammed up for once), Thomas Haden Church (as a cliched self-centered television correspondent), Ken Jeong (relatively calm for once), D.J. Qualls (bringing class to a barely-written role), and the delightful Katy Mixon (doing more than I would have thought humanly possible as a cliched hick) cannot breathe any life into this soggy story. The best that can be said about Cooper is that he escapes unscathed, a tribute to his true talent and star power.

Bullock is producer, too, and once again she seems to gravitate toward roles that run contrary to conventions of romantic comedy, and I respect that. She likes to play characters who are socially clumsy (“Miss Congeniality”) or incapable in relationships (“Forces of Nature”) and she does not always go for the happily ever after pairing off at the end of the movie. But here the story spirals past edgy into disturbing, with comic references to an infant’s deformity (and the idiocy of the public response) and an accident involving deaf children. While the film is making fun of the media circus about the rescue, it commits the same crime it is satirizing in its treatment of one of the children. The problem with this movie is not the cluelessness of Bullock’s character; it is the cluelessness of the script.

  • Mercedes S.

    Interesting comment about the “‘Adam’ style social dyslexia” – I found “All About Steve” extremely tedious until it occured to me that maybe the poor woman is autistic … as I added up her “aspie” symptoms (the glomming onto a favorite object, here the red boots; inability to connect with people; finding safety and meaning in an occupation most people would consider weird)I saw her as an “Adam” twin.

  • Nell Minow

    I had the same reaction, Mercedes! That was one of the thoughts that led me to say that there was a pea of a good idea! A shame they went for a romantic comedy vibe because I think there is a lot of explore with the spectrum of Aspies, with great potential for fascinating stories.

  • k

    A pea? Maybe a speck of dust.. It has potential, but not enough.. Such a waste of 90 minutes of my time. Thank goodness we got two free tickets because the “older” ladies behind us felt the need to discuss the movie throughout. They loved it. Go figure..

  • Nell Minow

    Too right, K, a terrible disappointment. Thanks for writing.

  • Brian

    As a parent, I am never certain what “Sexual reference” and “sexual situation” mean. I would have been better informed on this movie with a description that said: Parents should know that this movie contains some sexual references and a situation in which the caracters begin to undress one another (no nudity) in a heavy petting situation in the back of a car. Character Steve gropes Mary’s bra clad breasts.
    This would allow me to make a more informed decision on what I might send my kids to see.

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks for the comment, Brian. My review noted that a woman tries to have sex with a man she just met, which should give you a good idea of the level of content. I do my best to note any nudity or explicit sexual material but If you want that level of detail, I can recommend the excellent site maintained by my friend Jim Judy,

  • B

    I rather enjoyed this movie. I found it was clever, and as a person with some creativity, I enjoy movies that deviate from what is the “expected” happy ending. It was cute, and well fitting for those who do not fit in.

  • Nell Minow

    Always glad to hear from someone who sees more in a movie than I did, B, and I do agree with you that it was a good thing to depart from the usual happy ending. But, as you will see if you check my site tomorrow, this is the movie as I picked as the worst of the year.

  • Your Name

    I think the overall brefing that is given is about this movie is negative. Maybe a little more information and less personal thoughts of the movie and actors themselves would be nice. I personally enjoyed this movie a great deal. I wouldn’t feel comfortable having children watch the “sexy” scene which takes place in the car but other than that I think it is fine for teens to watch. The heart of the movie was good. It lets people know it is ok to be your unique self. It may not have been the best movie I have ever watched but it is worth watching. Would I recommend this movie to someone else? YES

  • Nell Minow

    Thanks! I am always glad to hear from someone who sees more in a movie than I do. “Personal thoughts” are what any critic — or fan like you — has to rely on, however. While I agree with you, as you will see in my review, that the movie has a good idea in supporting the idea that being odd or quirky is all right, I thought the movie undermined that idea in the way it made the main characters the object of so much derisive humor. But I am happy that it was both meaningful and entertaining for you and appreciate your comments, which will be helpful to those who are deciding whether to see the film.

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