THE TAO OF STEVE
isn't just a name, it's a state of mind. It's a way of living. James
Bond is a Steve. Spider Man is a Steve."
Are we women really so predictable that a simple three-step process
could win over our bodies, minds and hearts? A portly Taoist-cum-playboy
named Dex in Jenniphr Goodman's debut feature, The Tao of Steve,
believes that, yes, all women will eventually be won over if you 1)
lose your desire for them, 2) do something excellent around them, and
3) be gone.
"We pursue that which retreats from us," is the Heidegger quote Dex
(Donal Logue) repeats over and over to his buddies when explaining the
"Tao of Steve," a philosophy on how to successfully nail lots of women
by taking on the persona of a "Steve" rather than a "Stu." To be a Steve
is to be alluring to women despite any obvious flaws (a huge potbelly,
for example), and to be a Stu is to let women reject you time and time
"Men and women both want to have sex," says Dex, "but women want to
have sex 15 minutes after us, so if you hold out for 20, she'll be chasing
you for five."
By most people's standards, Dex would be the last person in the world
to get laid. He's overweight, lazy, employed part-time and appears to
have no life whatsoever beyond Frisbee golf, poker, his bong and his
dog. But paradoxically, Dex gets laid all the time. Moreover, he's looked
upon as a religious leader by a group of men who long to be a Steve
Naturally, Dex meets his match - the one woman who can't be manipulated,
the drum-playing Syd (Greer Goodman). Syd embodies all that Dex wants
to be. She is "that which retreats," -- disarming him at every turn.
Syd appears to be the only woman who notices how hurtful Dex's womanizing
behavior can be. Thus begins Dex's deconstruction of his own carefully
constructed persona. Who is he if he's not a Steve? Just another slacker?
Or, god forbid, a Stu?
For a film that introduces a brand new leading man to the movie-going
public, The Tao of Steve is surprisingly by-the-book plotwise,
rarely deviating from the romantic comedy formula we all know so well.
The biggest surprise of the film is that we're tricked into believing
"The Tao of Steve" is something we should applaud. But the
writers, Jenniphr Goodman, Greer Goodman and Duncan North (on whom Dex
is directly based) clearly had a different message in mind, one that
hinges on vulnerability, leaps of faith and, strangely enough, honesty.
Turns out Dex's ideas about love are about as hokey as his method of
dieting: the "pizza diet," the "sleeping diet" and the "peanut butter-and-jelly"
diet. They work, certainly, but how good are they for you?
back-story of The Tao of Steve is almost as important as the
film. NYU Film Grad, Jenniphr Goodman moves into a bedroom in the house
of one Duncan North of Santa Fe. North, who once dated her sister, Greer
(co-writer and star), so captivates Goodman with his intermingling of
philosophy, pop culture and womanizing that she begins tape-recording
everything he says. Those tapes would eventually turn into the screenplay
"The Tao of Steve." Indeed, the film's website
even has an "Ask Duncan" section where the love guru answers visitor's
However, this film would be nowhere without its leading man, the coolly
charming, understated dreamboat, Donal Logue, who won Best Actor at
this year's Sundance Film Festival. Even with a fat pad the size of
a Buick, Logue pulls off Dex with such a natural ease, you'd be hard
pressed not to become one of his conquests or one of his followers.
While he has many defining moments, a few stand out as among the finest
of any performance to come out this year. One that should have its place
firmly in our collective cinematic memory is the scene when Dex, depressed
over his inability to win over Syd, sprays the equivalent of a sundae
into his mouth while standing at the refrigerator with its door cranked
open. A spoonful of ice cream, a dribble of chocolate sauce, a spray
of whipped cream, and repeat. All while his begging dog looks on.
Goodman brings a refreshing antidote to the endless Tarantino hangover,
one that celebrates things like smart women, the exchange of ideas and
all things fun. Even the setting, in and around Santa Fe, is like nothing
we've ever seen in movies. There is a post-Seinfeld conversational tone
that leaves the impression that these people are not characters in a
film but rather just some people you know, people who are flawed in
appearance, and full of contradictions that don't have to be explained.
This is a movie that's fun to hang out with.