Mary (Bullock) is a socially inept crossword creator for a local newspaper in Sacramento, California, where she lives with her oddball parents (Hesseman and Grant). They set her up on a blind date with news cameraman Steve (Cooper), who quickly realises that she's a nutcase. But she follows him and his crew (reporter Church and producer Jeong) to from story to story across the Southwest, convinced that they're meant to be together. It all culminates at a collapsed mineshaft in Colorado.
It's hard to imagine how Bullock could have made Mary likeable; she certainly tries with this smiley, perky performance. But all that grinning only makes Mary creepier, transforming Bullock's charm into a scary grimace. Mary is a woman who knows far too much and never stops talking about it; no one could spend more than 30 seconds in her presence. And indeed the supporting cast members deliver appropriately uncomfortable, frightened performances opposite this "hyperactive stalker".
What may have looked goofy in the script is rendered flat on-screen by Traill's uninspired direction, which also magnifies the gaping plot holes. And the exaggerated depiction of TV newscasters is a big misstep: when the real thing is laughable, a corny caricature just looks stupid. Meanwhile, the comical treatment of disasters (including a hurricane and tornado) is in the worst possible taste even if, miraculously, no one gets hurt. No, wait: the extended sequence about a three-legged baby is in the worst possible taste.
We can almost see a glimmer of the original idea that attracted Bullock to this film about a fiercely individualistic woman who is unapologetically herself and has no reason to change that. But the finished movie destroys that theme by turning her into such an irritant. As originally conceived, it's a strong message, but this film instead tells us that, if you decide to be yourself, you should be prepared to live alone for the rest of your life.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th September 2009
Box Office USA: $33.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $40.1M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Fox 2000 Pictures, Radar Pictures, Dune Entertainment III, Fortis Films, Dune Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 7%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 126
IMDB: 4.8 / 10
Director: Phil Traill
Producer: Sandra Bullock, Mary McLaglen
Screenwriter: Kim Barker
Starring: Sandra Bullock as Sandra Horowitz, Thomas Haden Church as Hartman, Bradley Cooper as Steve, Ken Jeong as Angus, DJ Qualls as Howard, Howard Hesseman as Mr. Horowitz, Keith David as Corbitt, Beth Grant as Mrs. Horowitz, Katy Mixon as Elizabeth, M.C. Gainey as Norm the Truck Driver, Holmes Osborne as Soloman, Delaney Hamilton as Little Deaf Girl, Jason Jones as Vasquez, Carlos Gómez as Rescue Supervisor, George Sharperson as Rescuer, Luenell as Protestor Lydia
Also starring: Charlyne Yi
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