Every now and then a great movie moment sneaks up and wrings spontaneous laughter from the audience.

THE TAO OF STEVE

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


In the lighthearted movie The Tao of Steve, Dex (Donal Logue) has developed a cerebral approach to handling women: "We pursue that which retreats from us." Dex's philosophy for winning with women is rooted in his admiration for a group of masters of cool named Steve. It is Steve McQueen who epitomizes "a state of being, a way of living" that allows success with women to coexist with a blissful state of autonomy. The "Tao of Steve," as a buddy describes it, is a master list of "Dex's rules for picking up chicks."

Our hero, who walks through life preceded by a big belly, gets what he wants with a strangely appealing mix of intelligence and audacity. Or maybe he succeeds because, underneath the verbal garbage, he's a nice guy. Once the smartest guy in his college class, Dex now teaches kindergarten part-time and divides the rest of his time between sleeping with women and coaching his friends in Frisbee, pool, poker, and seduction.

While all his buddies wash out with their girlfriends and wives, Dex merrily beds whoever appeals to him. Quick and smart, he erases roadblocks with lines like, "Am I supposed to remain celibate while I bask in the glow of your annihilating contempt?" Underneath the cynicism lies a tender heart.

All goes well in the aimless, but satisfying, life he has designed for himself until his tenth college reunion, where he runs into Syd (Greer Goodman), a former classmate who remembers him fondly and can't figure out why her brainy peer has deliberately chosen to be a brainy slacker. Syd brushes off Dex's verbal tricks and demolishes his guideline of inducing pursuit by seeming not to care. His philosophy is turned on its head: Dex is in love.

If the supporting cast never rises above the ordinary, that is one of the pitfalls of the limited budgets that plague independent filmmaking. The strength of this movie lies in the immediacy conveyed by Donal Logue and Greer Goodman, whose sister is the director, Jenniphr Goodman. As Dex and Syd, they manage to convey with their eyes alone an honesty so genuine that it actually becomes moving. Vulnerable and subtle, each begins to read the emotions of the other. They listen. Every now and then a great movie moment sneaks up and wrings spontaneous laughter from the audience. This happens when fat Dex stands before his open refrigerator eating an ice cream sundae. There he is, alone, shoveling and squirting the ingredients of his delight-ice cream, Reddi-Whip, chocolate sauce-into his mouth as fast as he can swallow them. Instant pleasure, no dishes to wash, no witnesses--a gross and glorious defiance of the mandate to eat healthily. For this lasting image I thank the screenwriters, one of whom happens to be Greer Goodman, who also does such a fine job playing Syd.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 501
Studio : Sony Pictures Classics
Rating : R
Running time : 1h27m


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