Click here to learn more about anamorphic widescreen!
Go to the Home Page
Go to The Rumor Mill
Go to Todd Doogan's weekly column
Go to the Reviews Page
Go to the Trivia Contest Page
Go to the Upcoming DVD Artwork Page
Go to the DVD FAQ & Article Archives
Go to our DVD Links Section
Go to the Home Theater Forum for great DVD discussion
Find out how to advertise on The Digital Bits

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

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

The Tao of Steve Program Rating: B+

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 basic rules:

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 women.

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 car.

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 over it.

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
[email protected]

E-mail the Bits!

Don't #!@$ with the Monkey! Site designed for 800 x 600 resolution, using 16M colors and .gif 89a animation.
© 1997-2015 The Digital Bits, Inc., All Rights Reserved.
[email protected]