All About Steve
“Will Shortz once said that it’s human nature to want to fill in empty spaces,” chirps cruciverbalist Mary Magdalene Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) in one of the many crossword-inspired bits of wisdom in this comedy that’s not just dumb, it’s dopey, moronic, doltish, obtuse and thick. Mary Horowitz is half-Catholic, half-Jewish, if screenwriter Kim Barker hadn’t yet hammered it over your head with her name. That’s the sort of forced detail that passes for character development. So, too, are Mary’s boots: red patent clompers that everyone treats with kitten-sweatshirt horror, when they’re obviously a hot target for fetishists. But it’s okay that Barker and director Phil Traill think you’re dumb; so much the better to appreciate Mary’s Rain Man sapience which, along with her social dysfunction and emotional cluelessness, has her scoring off the charts for Asperger’s syndrome. Mary’s parents (Howard Hesseman and bit part superstar Beth Grant) decide instead to fix her up with the son of a friend, a news cameraman named Steve (Bradley Cooper, handsome and annoyed) who is so cute and tactfully kind that Mary’s ripping his clothes off before dinner. When he spooks and runs, Mary chases, and the action follows the very, very attractive crossword puzzle writer stalking the newsman through several Midwestern disasters. Along for the ride are Mary’s new BFFs DJ Qualls and Katy Mixon—both playing Oklahomans with more fingers than brain cells—and the producer (Ken Jeong) and boorish anchor (Thomas Haden Church) who continue inciting Mary’s lust for kicks. Every element of this is as tone deaf as the hearing-impaired children who Church and Cooper rush to video when they fall down a mine. The only credit I can offer it is that it floats the idea that none of their leads are well-suited to date anyone—a truth so obvious you could write it in pen.