It was a nailbiter, and the fierce competition came down to the wire. In a summer led by Transformers 2, it seemed like movie released was the worst movie of the summer. But only one film could win.
With a 13 score on Metacritic, shooting at the very last minute past The Ugly Truth's 29 rating, All About Steve has made entertainment history, taking the title as Worst Film of the Summer of 2009.
It's amazing that after a summer like this, critics have any bile left to hurl, but our brave critical establishment, even in this last mile, has risen to the challenge of honoring this Gladiator of Awful.
Below are some of the frothing-at-the-mouth hi-lights.
Rolling Stone's Peter Travers was so broken by the experience of Steve that he could only manage to get out three sentences in his review, reprinted here in its entirety:
I don't have much to say about this unwatchable, unbearably unfunny farce in which Sandra Bullock hits the lowest point of her career as delusional, demented Mary Magdalene Horowitz, a cruciverbalist (she creates crossword puzzles) with no sex life who believes she'll find happiness by stalking Steve (Bradley Cooper), a TV news cameraman who wisely tries to avoid her. Audiences are advised to do the same. Jokes involve deaf children falling down a mine shaft.
The Boston Globe's Ty Burr openly campaigned to for Steve to get the title, calling it,
easily the worst movie of the week, month, year, and Bullock's entire career. It is to comedy what leprosy once was to the island of Molokai: a plague best contemplated from many miles away.
Mary is supposed to be adorable. She's not. She's possibly the most irritating character I've ever encountered in a Hollywood movie. Five minutes in her presence produces only a searing pain in one's frontal lobes and a primal flight response. The other characters understand this. Why don't the filmmakers?
The Onion's Nathan Rabin valiantly searched for traces of good, before lowering the sword:
Steve had the potential to be a sly deconstruction of romantic comedies, which have long posited stalker-type behavior as adorable, but the film isn't interested in clever meta-commentary. It's ultimately neither romantic comedy nor anti-romantic comedy, wandering so far off course that it's hard to tell exactly what it is, beyond a self-infatuated quirkfest populated by three-legged babies, deaf children stuck in abandoned mines, and a potential love interest for Bullock, played by DJ Qualls, who makes apple carvings that look like celebrities' faces.
More than a few mourned the fall of their beloved Bullock. The Washington Post's Ann Hornaday moaned,
In her other, better movies Bullock has managed her characters' inevitable transformations with her wry, self-deprecating aplomb intact. No such luck in "All About Steve," where a little bit of dignity is crushed with each step of Mary's red go-go boots. What was Our Sandy thinking? Will she ever come back? "All About Steve" is a puzzle, all right. Just one not worth solving.
Many reviews, including the Onion's, Salon's and the New York Post's single out one line of dialouge as the metaphor for all that is terribly wrong about this movie. Apparently at one point, Bullock offers a little piece of quirky wisdom, saying, "I wear these boots because they make my toes feel like 10 friends on a camping trip."
Critics also made rich use of the film's crossword puzzle theme as another metaphor for its suckiness. (Bullock plays a "cruciverbalist", i.e. a crossword maker). Variety's Brian Lowry writes:
Mary's throughout-the-movie narration gushes about the joys of crosswords, and there's a puzzle here, all right. But the only solution comes when two words (six letters) that mean "The movie's over" finally appear onscreen.
Honoring the conventions of movies made for the chick-lit crowd, Ms. Bullock supplies the ruefully confessional voice-over narration. Like everything else in the movie, it is-five-letter word for lacking significance-inane.
Robert Abele in the LA Times offered more literally:
Puzzle aficionados may balk at their pastime being labeled a signpost for crazy, but "All About Steve" — a screwball wannabe that leaves one begging for the comforting embrace of a professionally made sitcom — can't get near a crossword's interlocking logic. Think the Jumble.
The NY Post's Kyle Smith, in a major feat of critical acrobatics, combines the crossword theme and the horrible line to come up with one catch-all slam:
In the end, we learn that crossword puzzles are popular because we all have an urge to fill in the empty spaces around us. That might also explain how a pile of innocent blank paper found itself besmirched and degraded with dialogue like, "I wear these boots because they make my toes feel like 10 friends on a camping trip."
Congratulations critics. Steve may have taken home the gold, but in taking us inside suckiness as we've never been before, you are the true heroes of this day.