All About Steve' is all wrong for Sandra Bullock - and just about everyone else Read more:

n "All About Steve," Sandra Bullock waves her hands frantically at her side like a bird when she's excited, jabbers to a pet gerbil as if it's a person and is stared at like she's a freak-show attraction.

This is not how it should be.

For Bullock, "Steve" — a mean-spirited rom-com masquerading as a bless-the-outsiders underdog tale — is a lurch into the worst caricature of her screen persona. Since Bullock coproduced this masochistic venture, it seems she buys into the idea that fluffer-nut ditziness is what she does best.

Except it isn't. As this summer's hit "The Proposal" showed — proving what "Speed," "While You Were Sleeping," and "Two Weeks Notice" set in stone — Bullock's strength in comedies isn't that she can be a stumblebum (despite the pratfalls she executed in "Miss Congeniality"). It's that audiences can see themselves in her striving everywoman who trips on her tongue while hesitatingly, yet smartly and heroically, steps over boundaries. She's adorable without being a doormat.

"Steve" takes the doormat part, leaves adorable outside and makes Bullock's Mary Magdalene Horowitz a strange child-woman with a head full of "useless" knowledge and an inability to talk to people, much less connect. But that doesn't stop her from immediately jumping on Steve (Bradley Cooper), the TV cameraman she has a blind date with.

Mary creates crossword puzzles and lives with her parents, which is movie shorthand for "oddball." And since she seems borderline unhinged, Mary misunderstands Steve's brush-off and follows him around the country as he covers outrageous stories. Steve's nastiness never lets up, so the story has nowhere to go but into an abandoned mine, where Mary nearly dies for no other reason than narrative exhaustion.

Cooper's scruffy dismissiveness, so crucial to "The Hangover's" guy-centric humor, is totally wrong here, and director Phil Traill pairs him with a jackass TV reporter (Thomas Haden Church) who teases Mary. They're part of the movie's awfulness towards almost everyone, from supporting characters to Mary herself, who's such an object of ridicule she may as well have a dartboard around her neck.

When seen in context, all of the trailer's quirky moments become basically grade-school taunts, barely made tolerable by Bullock's star power.

And running through the witless script by Kim Barker ("License to Wed") is an unnecessary, shoehorned-in religiosity that would seem to run counter to the movie's cruel nature. It's just one more holy shame in this god-awful movie.

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