by Corey Hall
Oh Sandra Bullock, you were doing so well. A few weeks ago you were glowing in a career restart from the surprisingly pleasant rom-com The Proposal. But now, in the rump end of summer you drop this travesty, like a flaming turd, on America's doorstep.
Reversing the leering Woody Allen model, the latest trend sees aging actresses with ever-younger hunky co-stars. Last month it was Ryan Reynolds, now it's Bradley Cooper, also fresh from a breakout hit and no doubt annoyed that this turkey got fished from the scrap heap.
Bullock is Mary Horowitz, an open sore of desperation who's out for respect or a boyfriend — whichever's first. She's a 40ish, autodidactic crossword-puzzle constructor who still lives with her parents (surprise!), doomed to a life of lonely library visits. That is, until she's set up on a blind date with handsome TV cameraman Steve, who she promptly makes out with in the driveway before the car is even started. Naturally, this instant hookup freaks Steve. But it inspires Mary to write a puzzle in which each clue relates to her new crush. Her boss boots her. With free time, Mary pursues Steve as he rockets around the Southwest reporting on protests and natural disasters.
Thomas Haden Church is an expert at stealing bad movies from their stars, as he did recently to Eddie Murphy. Here he's a vain anchorman so dense he makes Ron Burgundy look like a PhD. But he's bright enough to figure that Mary's encyclopedia brain can give his reporting the crucial detail it lacks, and he invites her to follow his reporting crew, which includes Steve.
Hilarity does not ensue.
Mary's supposed to be a plucky free spirit, but mostly she's a chatty bore who's emotionally clueless. Bullock's sunshiny charm can't make us care about this cartoon twit in red leather boots who chases speeding cars and falls down mine shafts.
A decent spoof of cable news hysterics could be somewhere in this mess but it's too difficult to locate.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.