The Tao of Steve

on August 04, 2000 by Luisa F. Ribeiro
   "The Tao of Steve" twists the age-old dilemma of how to get the girl into a clever and buoyant bit of fun from first-time director and co-writer Jenniphr Goodman. Shrouding its theme--is it a real philosophy or just about sex?--in wily and occasionally shrewd dialogue, "Tao," with its eye-catching Santa Fe setting and likable stars, could be called a coming-of age romance for the thirtysomething set.

   Kindergarten teacher Dex (Donal Logue) is the story's unlikely hero and pudgy lothario who lives and breathes a highly successful philosophical creed of guy coolness established by emulating modern culture's great Steves (TV characters Steve McGarrett and Steve Austin, and actor Steve McQueen). Despite having added an excess amount of weight in the decade since he was his college campus' killer Romeo, Dex has lost none of his amorous skill, to the awe of his gambling buddies and close friend Rick--whose wife Beth is Dex's latest conquest. Naturally, a new girl rattles Dex's cage: visiting New York opera set designer Syd (co-writer Greer Goodman), who is as adept as Dex in philosophic quips laced with insightful truths. Dex's self-assurance takes a broadside, however, when Syd coolly evades his advances before making a startling revelation which throws the Steve truisms into jeopardy.

   Dex's dedication to a "tao" (solemnly described as "a state of mind and a way of living") that consists mostly of a hodge-podge of dubious principles is given credence more from Logue's bearish charm and easygoing delivery than any valid intellectual substance. In the mouth of a more dashing stud, the Steve-isms would disintegrate into what they really are: just another gimmick to get laid. The script carefully avoids exploring the real allure behind Dex's amazing romantic feats, settling for Dex's unorthodox appeal, a thin veil of mystery and a somewhat stereotypical (and disappointing) reduction of what women want. Nevertheless, the palpable chemistry between Logue and Goodman overcomes the story's occasional shortcomings, making this light charmer an unabashed pleasure. Starring Donal Logue and Greer Goodman. Directed by Jenniphr Goodman. Written by Duncan North with Greer Goodman and Jenniphr Goodman. Produced by Anthony Bregman. A Sony Pictures Classics release. Romantic Comedy. Rated R for language and some drug use. Running time: 88 min

Tags: Donal Logue, Duncan North, Greer Goodman, Jenniphr Goodman, Anthony Bregman, A Sony Pictures Classics release, Romantic Comedy, shortcomings, revelation, self-assurance, unorthodox

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