Peculiar, then annoying

It is not much fun to laugh at a crazy person. None, I would say.

This is how Bradley Cooper

This is how Bradley Cooper

All About Steve

One and a half stars

Classified: PG-13 (for sexual content including innuendos)

It is not much fun to laugh at a crazy person. None, I would say.

Sandra Bullock plays a character who is bonkers in All About Steve, which is billed as a comedy but more resembles a perplexing public display of irrational behaviour.

Seeing her run around as a basket case makes you appreciate Lucille Ball, who could play a dizzy dame and make you like her. Overacting is risky even in a screwball comedy. Perhaps especially.

Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle constructor who knows a vast number of words and how they’re spelled, but not much about how they might enlighten her.

Because her apartment has to be fumigated, she moves back home with her parents. The headline here is how she earned enough to move out in the first place. I may be mistaken, but I think of crossword puzzle construction as more of a second job for smart people.

Anyway, Mary is 40ish and still single, perhaps in part because she wears extraordinarily clumpy shiny red disco boots everywhere, all the time — even on a 5K charity hike, I can only assume.

Her parents arrange a blind date with Steve (Bradley Cooper of The Hangover), a television cameraman for a cable news network. The network must not be as big as CNN because there’s only evidence of one crew: Steve and his on-air talent Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church).

Mary lays her eyes on Steve and wants to lay everything else. This isn’t love at first sight; it’s erotomania.

On their first date, she gives his tonsils a tongue massage. Soon he’s fleeing from sightings of her and she’s in hot pursuit. Her desperation extends to a scene where she runs in her disco boots beside the TV news van, breathlessly small-talking to Steve through the window. If Steve had mercy, he would stop or speed up — anything would be better than playing her along.

The crew is assigned to the site of a big breaking story. A group of small deaf children has fallen into a well.

Why deaf? Diversity in casting, I guess. It’s not like they have to do anything other than be rescued. Mary pursues them to the accident scene, and in a shot destined to go viral on YouTube, she runs across the field behind Steve, waving wildly, and falls into the hole herself.

You see what I mean.

The point comes when we’re rolling our eyes right along with Mary. But don’t get me wrong. I am fond of Sandra Bullock. I’ve given her some good reviews, as recently as this summer (The Proposal).

But how does she choose her material? If she does it herself, she needs an agent. If it’s done by an agent, she needs to do it herself.

The screenplay by Kim Barker requires her to behave in an essentially disturbing way that began to wear on me.

It begins as merely peculiar, moves on to miscalculation and becomes seriously annoying.

One of its most unfortunate elements is seeing Bullock so stranded and helpless in a would-be comic frenzy. An actress should never, ever be asked to run beside a van in red disco boots for more than about half a block, and then only if her child is being kidnapped.

Roger Ebert is a syndicated Chicago Sun-Times movie critic.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

File photo
Gov’t of Alberta identifies estimated 300 new COVID-19 cases Sunday

Online COVID-19 dashboard unavailable as upgrades being completed

The Central Alberta Freestyle Ski Club is hoping to win $50,000 through the Mackenzie Investments Top Peak contest. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta ski club trying to win $50K in online contest

A central Alberta ski club has entered a contest where it can… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

Ben King scores for the Red Deer Rebels during the third period of a Western Hockey League game against the Calgary Hitmen at the Westerner Park Centrium Saturday. (Photo by Rob Wallator/Red Deer Rebels)
Rebels complete comeback to pick up first win of season

Rebels 3 Hitmen 2 (OT) The Red Deer Rebels were able to… Continue reading

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on December 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives to call top Sajjan, Trudeau aides to testify on Vance allegations

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives plan to summon two senior Liberal aides… Continue reading

Elvira D'Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Several provinces were preparing to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, as Canada’s… Continue reading

Mount Pearl Senior High in Mount Pearl, N.L., remains closed on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. The provincial health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
In Newfoundland and Labrador, three ingredients made for explosive COVID-19 outbreak

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — With her classes, three part-time jobs and a… Continue reading

A passenger places a tag on luggage at the departure terminal at Toronto Pearson Airport, in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, May 24, 2019. The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many recent immigrants to leave Canada and return to their countries of origin, where they have more social and familial connections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
COVID-19 pandemic prompts recent newcomers to leave Canada for their home countries

OTTAWA — The economic and life disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Rail cars wait for pickup in Winnipeg, Sunday, March 23, 2014. The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
As debate rages over cross-border pipelines, U.S. analysts brace for more oil by rail

WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian… Continue reading

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

VICTORIA — Legal experts and a mother whose ex-partner was convicted of… Continue reading

Radio and television personality Dick Smyth is shown in an undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO
Dick Smyth, Canadian maestro of news radio commentary, dies at 86

TORONTO — Radio and television personality Dick Smyth, whose booming commentary filled… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

Most Read