All About Steve Phil Traill

All About Steve Phil Traill
Like its idiosyncratic protagonist, All About Steve is initially hard to swallow, often taking quirky to a credulity-straining place. But despite its life-affirming comedy conventions, it manages to pull off some charm and offer up a worthy message of "fuck normalcy and herd mentality, you boring cows," which is simultaneously refreshing and familiar. The problem with this mantra is that a good chunk of the Sandra Bullock audience loves assimilation and convention, making this one a harder sell that probably won't find the same success as The Proposal.

In this one, Ms. Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, an overly intelligent crossword puzzle constructor with a tendency to misread body language and social cues, taking colloquialisms literally, while spewing off an endless series of facts and titbits. Aside from being a bit horny, Mary is relatively content, despite the constant assertions from co-workers and family that she can only find happiness in normalization, presumably so she can chat about the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy with a passionless, glazed over expression.

Eventually following the advice of others, Mary develops an interest in CCN cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper) after a blind date gone bad (unbeknownst to her), who she then follows across the country, influenced by a nonchalant comment and goaded on by a dickhead reporter (Thomas Haden Church).

While Mary occasionally devolves into caricature, stepping beyond peculiar for narrative convenience, Bullock unflinchingly commits to her role, maintaining a consistent friendly optimism in the face of excess negativity. It is perhaps this unwavering congruity that makes a frustrating character worth rooting for in the end.

Where the film diverges from a typical studio path is in its comedy, as jokes are made about deaf/mute orphans falling into abandoned mine shafts and Mary casually brings up the wildly awkward and inappropriate in conversation.

Some may appreciate this darker humour, while others will simply find it strange and off-putting, wanting more pratfalls and clichés. Regardless, it's nice to see a mainstream star vehicle take a few risks here and there, even if those risks occasionally don't work. (Fox)