Saturday, January 2, 2010

Worst of the Worst: #96, All About Steve

We all know people are idiots and movie critics are people, so the transitive property is at work. When you look up All About Steve on Rotten Tomatoes, the rating from the "RT Community" is 44%. The rating from the "Top Critics" is 8%. The rating from all critics is 6%. That final score was low enough to rank the movie #96 on Rotten Tomatoes' list of the worst movies of the decade. It was low enough to rank the movie there, but it wasn't nearly low enough in general. I've now seen 17 of these films, none higher ranked than today's #96. It's quite possible that as many as 15 of those films were better than All About Steve.

While this makes no sense, I'm going to explain this off as the recency effect. We often credit the last thing we saw as being better than past things. Hence, I saw An Education last night and thought that when it was firing on all cylinders, it was better than Up In The Air. It may have been true, but maybe another viewing of Up In The Air would put that back on top. Since, All About Steve, which should be to the Razzies what Up In The Air and An Education will be to the Oscars, came out this year, I'm going to say that people thought of it more fondly than the other films on the list because of the recency effect. Nonsense, because the list is based on the reviews that were done as each film came out, but I need to find some way to excuse the critics for rating this movie as highly as they did. Because it is awful.

The movie has Sandra Bullock as a crossword puzzle writer who lives with her parents and has no friends. Set up on a blind date with a TV cameraman, played by Bradley Cooper, she immediately falls in love with him. He tries to get her to go away by lying about how much he'd like to be with her if she could travel with him. Thanks to a totally absurd plot point, she gets fired and decides to follow Cooper around the country to be with him. Cooper's reporter, Thomas Haden Church, decides to keep telling Bullock that Cooper is in love with her so that she'll keep following. The movie tries to portray her as simple and quirky, but the character strays well into mentally-disturbed territory. Here is the biggest failing of the film in two ways. One, it seems to mock someone who may be mentally-challenged in some way even though she's not really supposed to be. Two, it would have been a much better film if Bullock had just carved Cooper up the first time she went after him.

Instead, Bullock sweetly follows him until they get to the point where some deaf kids have fallen into a well. Why the movie has to mock a bunch of deaf kids, but not have Bullock kill everyone in sight and then get put down by firing squad, is beyond me. She ends up falling down the well herself after the kids have been rescued, but finds another kid down there. So they rescued all the kids, but nobody counted to make sure they had all of them? In the end, everyone learns that it's okay to be a little weird and Bullock make friends and has better self-esteem. In one of the many voice-overs that made me groan out loud (it should be noted here that Bullock sometimes talks with a lisp, sometimes not, so the voice-overs also end up being glaring continuity errors), Bullock says something like, "Crosswords are all about filling in the blanks. Life is like that, too." Ladies and gentlemen, All About Steve.

On a side note, I've watched all of these movies by myself until today. Maybe it was a dumb decision to submit myself to these... things -- today's was maybe the second besides 3 Strikes that actually made me physically uncomfortable -- but I've kept these as my own cross to bear. Today, my wife was curious about the movie and decided to watch with me. I'm not exaggerating when I say that one minute into the movie, we turned to each other and expressed our greatest fears for how bad this film was going to be, fears that were exceeded. I may not have an iron stomach for spicy food, but somehow I'm able to digest this crap without going totally insane. That's not to say that it wouldn't be fun to watch an Uwe Boll movie with a group, but not all of these are "fun bad." I'm not asking for sympathy, I'm just musing about the idea that there has to be some way to play my strong constitution for personal benefit down the line. Mike Nelson writes about bad movies, but the whole idea of MST3K was those so-bad-they're-good films. I wonder if there's a niche out there for people who take one for the collective team.

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