'All About Steve'
Problem is, "All About Steve" wants to charm us, too. Mary Magdalene Horowitz, portrayed by Bullock as a cockeyed optimist who can't take a hint, is stridently daffy, shiny red boots and all. She's great with words and lousy with people, pouring her life into her job as a crossword-puzzle constructor for a Sacramento newspaper. (Already they're sort of reaching: In which century does this take place?)
Her folks set up a blind date between Mary and a hunky CNN cameraman (Bradley Cooper), who then spends the rest of the movie crisscrossing the country on assignment while Mary follows, panting. Thomas Haden Church, always good for some dryly ironic line readings, plays the preening on-camera reporter who inexplicably leads Mary to believe that his colleague is hot for her. Then a bunch of deaf kids fall into an abandoned mine shaft (!) (or rather: ?!), and "All About Steve" becomes a more serious and sentimental comedy all about the callowness of the media circus as it relates to exploitable tragedy.
You may have seen Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole." Director Phil Traill's film, by contrast, from a script by Kim Barker (who wrote the execrable "License to Wed"), couldn't draw an ace if it played cards all year. Like the recent Kevin Costner vehicle "Swing Vote," this film makes timid observations about American media and ordinary folks trying to fit in that are depressingly toothless.
Though she served as producer on the project, Bullock isn't to be blamed. I like her, in good material and bad, and her hardy movie-star durability made "The Proposal" a success despite itself. Cooper's just coming off an even bigger title, "The Hangover." Perhaps "All About Steve" will become a hit by association.