The Tao of Steve

Directed by Jenniphr Goodman
Starring: Donal Logue, Greer Goodman, Kimo Wills, Ayelet Kaznelson, David Aaron Baker, Nina Jaroslaw.
MPAA Rating: R for language and some drug use.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
August 30, 2000

It seems that I picked the wrong major in college. I laughed at those who took philosophy instead of a professional discipline. Little did I know that Taoism could be used to pick up women, regardless of your personality or appearance.

At least that's what The Tao of Steve postulates. The film stars Donal Logue (from The Patriot, making him the only face you're bound to recognize) as Dex, an overweight, pot-smoking loser who has just attended his 10-year college reunion. He was quite the lothario in his younger, thinner days, and he has managed to continue his sexual conquests thanks to (as you may have guessed) "The Tao of Steve". A Steve is a confident, strong man -- like Steve McQueen or Steve Austin. By adopting the persona of Steve, Dex can have any woman he wants.

The rules are simple: 1. Eliminate your desires; 2. Do something excellent in her presence; 3. Retreat! Gets 'em every time. However, Dex meets Syd (Greer Goodman) at the reunion, and she does not respond well to him. Syd is staying with Dex's mutual friends Rick and Maggie (David Aaron Baker and Nina Jaroslaw), and she needs Rick's truck while she's in town designing the set for a production of Don Giovanni. After his motorcycle breaks down, Dex also needs to borrow the truck to get to his part-time job as a kindergarten teacher. This arrangement forces them together, but Syd is holding back a secret that makes it difficult to bear Dex's presence.

What is the secret? Well, some of the advertising discloses it, which I think is a very bad idea. It makes a nice surprise twist near the end that makes the film more interesting. Having already known it myself, I was able to look at the film a different way (like watching Fight Club for the second time), but I believe that it would have been even more enjoyable without knowing. Anyway, without dwelling on that point further, I'll say that the story structure isn't entirely original, but the irony of Dex being Don Giovanni himself is just delicious.

Logue (who won a Special Jury Award at Sundance) gives a wonderful performance as a slacker-intellectual. He gets to spout great lines, like "Should I remain celibate while basking in the glow of your annihilating contempt?" when Syd questions his feelings for her. Goodman makes her screen debut as Syd, and she also wrote the screenplay with Duncan North and her sister Jenniphr, who directed. It's a nice, indie-flavored comedy that is bound to please even the most jaded philosophy majors.

So, if the The Tao of Steve works, I wonder if a new application can be found for the The Tao of Pooh? Maybe, at this very moment, Benjamin Hoff is getting all the free honey he wants. Just something to think about.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Tao of Steve (2000)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
The Tao of Steve (2000) -- VHS
The Tao of Steve (2000) -- DVD
Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu (translated by Stephen Mitchell) -- Paperback
The Tao of Steve: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan