The Tao of Steve Jenniphr Goodman
Published Sep 01, 2000I'm always happy to see Donal Logue's name in the credits of any movie. You may remember him as the second-string villain who stole the show in Blade, or from any number of bit parts he's done. His screen presence is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino (the Tarantino that moonlights as an actor or a talk show guest, that is), and he's got a dash of the cool aloofness of Eric Stoltz thrown in for good measure. Bottom line, when he's on screen, you can't take your eyes off him - whether he's ranting uncontrollably or waxing poetic, you want to hear what he has to say. This is why he's perfectly cast in The Tao of Steve. Logue won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance for his portrayal of Santa Fe slacker Dex, who is slovenly, unambitious and overweight, but has such a seemingly self-actualised personality, he's able to attract more women than he can handle. Dex works hard at keeping up the revolving door of women in his life, and he gladly shares his three-step chick-magnet program with his buddies. First, eliminate desire (women can smell desperation); do something excellent in her presence (but pretend you don't care she's watching); and retreat from her (women pursue that which eludes them).
Dex's philosophy on life is a sort of a utilitarian hodgepodge of American pop culture (the title refers to Steve McQueen, the ultimate "Steve"), and Western and Buddhist teachings, all of which he uses to justify his own laziness and moral failings. He's sleeping with his friend's wife, but he dodges the guilt by paraphrasing St. Augustine ("Lord give me chastity and virtue... but not just yet.") Of course, he very quickly meets a woman he can't seduce named Syd (Greer Goodman), and as he unwittingly starts to fall for her (breaking his first rule), the painful growing up process starts to reveal Dex's closely guarded insecurities. The Tao of Steve was directed by Jenniphr Goodman, who has an uncommonly light, breezy touch for a first-time director. She also co-wrote the script along with her sister (Greer) and Duncan North (the real life "Dex" upon whom the movie is based), so the characters all feel true to life, if nothing else. But authenticity doesn't always carry a movie, and although Logue's performance is inspired, the story isn't. Peel back the all the Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, and it's all just likable romantic comedy hokum.