All About Steve (Blu-ray)
Directed by Phil Traill
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 99 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, Portuguese
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, others
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: December 22, 2009
Review Date: December 22, 2009
After appearing in the clever, surprisingly effective smash hit comedies The Proposal and The Hangover this past summer, Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper both come a cropper with the effectively unfunny All About Steve. Most of the comedy in those previous hit films works like gangbusters, but All About Steve is the antithesis of both of them, a farcical misfire shooting comic blanks and managing to waste a supremely talented cast of actors on soggy, strained material. One watches the film feeling something close to pity for the actors trying so mightily to make something amusing out of such drab, slight material and then trying to top it off with a serious message that practically insults the audience with its hackneyed obviousness.
Crossword puzzle creator Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) goes on an abbreviated blind date with news cameraman Steve (Bradley Cooper) and becomes infatuated with him, so much so that a puzzle designed to be all about him leads to her dismissal from the local newspaper making her decision to follow him across the southwest as he heads out on stories with pompous newsman Harris Hartman (Thomas Haden Church) and segment producer Angus (Ken Jeong) all the easier. How can Steve convince the brainy but thick-headed Mary that he’s really not interested in her?
Kim Barker’s slim story is padded out to feature length by having the smart-though-lacking-common sense Mary stalk the exasperated Steve from Tucson through Oklahoma City, Galveston, and finally to Silver Plume, Colorado, where she unwittingly takes part in a daring rescue of some mute school children, never once figuring out that Steve’s simply not interested and that she’s being the dupe of the practical joking jerk anchorman. Though Mary is completely annoying in her eccentricities, she doesn’t deserve such mean-spirited treatment, and the continual rejections she faces leaves the viewer with quite the sour taste. Sure, Barker writes into the story a group of likeminded eccentrics that identify completely with Mary’s quirks, and those few scenes are by far the best in the movie. One must take writer Barker and director Phil Traill to task for their shameless attempt to manipulate emotions with the film’s climactic scenes moving the story from farce to bathos that’s completely unearned as they try to force home the moral that “different is good.” That’s not a new revelation, and the audience doesn’t need to sit through the film to arrive at such an obvious homily.
Sandra Bullock can play cute and klutzy with the best of them, but her Mary is one of her more irritating concoctions with a motormouth spouting arcane facts and useless information and a overly precious naiveté that would make Minnie Mouse look sophisticated. Bradley Cooper takes a stock good looking albeit nothing character and does nothing with him. Thomas Haden Church plays a standard issue blowhard narcissist in very predictable fashion. Farther down the cast list come some more interesting performances: DJ Qualls and Katy Mixon as two of Mary’s roadie friends who give her unquestioned support, Ken Jeong as the longsuffering producer who has a great scene in the news van telling both of his pretty boy companions off, and Keith David as a slow-burning cable news producer egging on his crew to find something sensational. The very amusing Howard Hesseman and Beth Grant are wasted as Mary’s parents.
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a very appealing 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Colors are bright and well saturated in the image, and sharpness is very nicely achieved throughout. Shadow detail in the cavern sequence is quite impressive. There are some aliasing problems in the grillwork of some big rigs, and skin tones can sometimes take on an unnatural brownish tone. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix doesn’t take advantage of all of the surround opportunities afforded by situations in the movie, but there is one greatly effective sequence when a twister in Galveston does its damage as three protagonists hide in a drainpipe. Surround activity and the LFE channel are well handled during those moments. Otherwise, the mix stays pretty frontcentric through much of the film though Christophe Beck’s bumpy score has been spread through the front and rear speakers quite well.
The audio commentary features director Phil Traill, writer Kim Barker, and stars Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, and Ken Jeong. It’s a laughter-filled, fun reminiscence of making the movie though for those of us not privy to on-set activities, the humor may seem somewhat unexplained.
Unless otherwise noted, the bonus features are presented in 1080p.
There are six deleted/alternate scenes which can be viewed with or without commentary from the above-named participants. They can be viewed separately or in one 9 ¼-minute grouping.
The film’s gag reel runs 5 ½ minutes and also includes a commentary track which can be turned on or off.
Bradley Cooper and Ken Jeong sing an a capella duet in front of a green screen where scenes and outtakes from the film are projected. It also has an optional commentary track and runs for 1 ¾ minutes.
“Hollywood Dish with Mena Micheletti” is a tongue-in-cheek improv interview sequence as master ad-libber Kerry Kenny-Silver (who has a tiny part in the actual film as a schoolteacher) plays a Hollywood gossip columnist snooping around the set trying to land some dishy scoop from the stars of the film. It’s the release’s funniest extra and runs 17 ¾ minutes in 1080i.
“All About All About Steve” is a 10 ½-minute EPK featurette with the director and stars talking about their characters and the movie.
A 3 ½-minute montage of cast and crew snapshots is backed by a new Sandra Bullock (as Mary) rap song.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School: Phil Traill finds the director of the movie being interviewed by three soon-to-graduate film school students about his career and the experiences of working on this movie. The 23 ¾-minute interview is presented in 480i.
The disc contains 1080p trailers for Fame, Adam, and (500) Days of Summer.
The second disc in the set is the digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions for installation on Mac and PC devices.
2.5/5 (not an average)
Not a worthy entry into the resumes of any of its stars or director, All About Steve is a witless, strained farce with a too-obvious message tacked on for good measure. Though the Blu-ray release looks and sounds very good, the film is really only for fans of the stars who want to make sure they see everything each of them has ever done. Otherwise, it’s a pretty weak, irksome, unworkable comedy.