Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 4/9/01
The Tao of Steve
2000 (2001) - Sony Pictures
Classics (Columbia TriStar)
review by Brian Ford Sullivan of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/B
Specs and Features
87 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided,
single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, commentary (by director/co-writer
Jenniphr Goodman, co-writer Duncan North, actress/co-writer Greer Goodman and
actor Donal Logue), talent files, 3 theatrical trailers (for
The Tao of Steve, The
Patriot and Jerry Maguire),
film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD
2.0), subtitles: English, French and Spanish, Close Captioned
"Are you a Stu or a Steve?"
This is the question central to director Jenniphr Goodman's dating rules opus,
The Tao of Steve. So what is "The Tao
(pronounced "dao" for you non-philosophy majors) of Steve?" It's
essentially the embracing of the Buddhist philosophy of desirelessness and being
excellent at things when it comes to dating. This is personified by all the
great "Steves" of past - Steve Austin (The
Six Million Dollar Man), Steve McGarrett (Hawaii
Five-O), and the king of all Steves, Steve McQueen (The
Great Escape). All of these actors followed "The Tao of Steve"
philosophy, in that they didn't try to get the girl. They simply just believed
they were cool... and so the girls came to them. It follows then, that the
opposite of "Steves" are the "Stus" - the Barney Fifes,
Juggheads and Gomer Pyles of the world.
As ridiculous as this philosophy may it seem, it works. That's especially for
overweight slacker Dex (Grounded for Life's
Donal Logue), a Santa Fe pre-school teacher. Despite entering his "fat
Elvis" years, as he calls them, Dex still manages to get just about any
woman he wants, and spends his days getting high and playing Frisbee golf. Key
to his success is his embracing "The Tao of Steve", which has three
Rule #1 - Don't talk about "The Tao
of Steve" (sorry... wrong movie). Actually, it's "Be desireless."
Essentially, if you act like a puppy dog around a girl, you're toast. But if you
act like you don't want the girl, she'll wonder why you don't and hence become
interested. Women can smell an agenda.
Rule #2 - "Be excellent." Girls
like to be impressed. In the case of Dex, it's his ability to work with children
that catches the eye of women. So find something you can show you're good at to
Rule #3 - "Be gone." Dex
explains... "Men and women both want to have sex, but women want to have
sex 15 minutes after us, so if you hold out for 20, she'll be chasing you for
five." Hence the power of the 20-minute strategy.
This code has brought Dex quite the string of lovers. He manages to charm a
co-ed at a college reunion (Dana Goodman), he's in the midst of an affair with a
married woman (Ayelet Kaznelson), and he's even being pursued by one of his
fellow schoolteachers. But all of this is thrown out the window when Dex meets
Syd (Greer Goodman), a set designer he encounters at his college reunion.
Strangely, his rules don't seem to really work on her despite (through an odd
set of coincidences) being forced to spend time with her by sharing a friend's
Rounding out Dex's story are his fellow housemates, whom he takes under his
wing. Among these is an overeager fellow named Dave (Kimo Wills), who continues
to strike out with girls. There's also his best friends, Rick and Maggie (David
Aaron Baker and Nina Jaroslaw), who wonder how Dex can find happiness through
such a manipulative strategy. It's through all these characters, and a healthy
dose of discussions about eastern philosophy, that Dex finds the truth about
what make a person happy. I won't spoil the answer for you here.
Let's talk about the disc itself. Quite simply, I don't remember the last time
an independent film has looked this good. Teodoro Maniaci's cinematography is
absolutely stunning, particularly the Santa Fe landscapes that almost become a
character themselves. The anamorphic picture on this DVD is quite crisp and
sharp, and the red-orange hue of most of the colors is very satisfying. My only
hang-up is that there are a few fairly noticeable flaws in the print, particular
in the earlier sections of the film. Just hang with it though and you'll get
The audio presentation is a satisfactory Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. While it's
mostly dialogue, the music is well presented. Somehow, the director and
producers found a song that has to do with Steve McQueen, as well as the fun
sound clips from the other, aforementioned Steves' film and TV work.
While the extras on the disc are quite slim, they're nevertheless quite
engrossing. Chief among them is an audio commentary by director Jenniphr
Goodman, co-writer Duncan North (whom we learn the film is based upon) and
actors Greer Goodman and Donal Logue. This is probably one of the busiest
commentaries I've heard in a long while, as the participants seem to always talk
over each other (and even mention they are talking over each other). Despite
that (at times) irritating quality, the track is a good listen. Logue dominates
the conversation with some very funny quips ("I can't believe I got to make
out with all the Goodman sisters.") and, in general, livens up the other
members. Director Jenniphr and her sister Greer (a third sister, Dana, is also
in the film) speak very insightfully about how the project came about and manage
to embarrass Duncan North, the inspiration for Dex and inventor of "The Tao
of Steve." There aren't many gaps in the conversation - everyone finds
something to say. It's easily one of the better commentaries I've heard in
recent months. Aside from a few trailers (I'm not quite sure why there's one for
Jerry Maguire here) and some talent files,
that just about rounds out the disc.
Overall, The Tao of Steve is the type of
freewheeling, fun film you wish they made more of. It's also nice to see that
every independent film out there doesn't involve drug deals gone wrong and/or
guns. So if you're looking for a nice way to spend 90 minutes, and get a few
laughs in the process (as well as some interesting party conversation), this is
DVD a must-see.
Brian Ford Sullivan