Not 'All About Steve,' Mary's even worse

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REVIEW

PLOT: A quirky crossword-puzzle author falls for a cute news cameraman. Rated PG-13 (no stars)

BOTTOM LINE: Bullock’s natural charm is snuffed by this unfunny, grating comedy, which may well be the worst film of the year.

CAST: Sandra Bullock, Bradley Cooper, Thomas Haden Church

LENGTH: 1:38

If the bland romantic comedy "The Proposal" dented your faith in the otherwise- appealing and high-spirited Sandra Bullock, you may abandon her entirely after her newest fiasco, "All About Steve." The film isn't merely unfunny and stupefyingly inane but a depressing waste of money, energy and time, yours included.

This soul-killing atrocity begins with a bad idea and fully delivers on its lack of promise. Bullock plays Mary Horowitz, a Sacramento crossword-puzzle author whose defining qualities are an obsessive brain, a fact-spouting mouth and a tendency toward manic delusion. On a blind date, she falls instantly for Steve (Bradley Cooper, of "The Hangover"), a handsome news cameraman who wisely identifies her as a toxic nut-job: Even when Mary offers him a quickie in his car, Steve feigns a phone call and heads off on "assignment."

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This leads Mary to chase Steve across the country as he shoots hurricanes, hostage situations and other familiar news stories. Meanwhile, Steve's colleague, the self-centered reporter Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church), encourages Mary's insane behavior for no apparent reason.

You can almost smell the desperate sweat dripping from director Phil Traill and screenwriter Kim Barker ("License to Wed") as they veer from screwball romance to road-trip comedy to sugary sentimentality, finally wrapping it up with a group of deaf children falling into a mine shaft. Mary's reaction: a series of callous deaf jokes.

Bullock can usually bring charm and wit to even the blandest characters, but she has met her appalling match. Watching Bullock's talent go to waste makes "All About Steve" an achingly sad comedy.

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