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Movies
'Tao of Steve, The'

Cool rules: 'Tao of Steve' teaches a state of mind

Friday, September 08, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

In the Santa Fe world of Dex and his friends, Steve is shorthand for prototypical cool American male. As in Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man. As in Steve McGarrett, the no-nonsense head of Hawaii's Five-O unit. As in the king of cool, actor Steve McQueen.

 
   
'The Tao Of Steve'


RATING: R for language, discreet bedroom scenes, some drug use.

STARRING: Donal Logue, Greer Goodman

DIRECTOR: Jenniphr Goodman

CRITIC'S CALL: 3 stars

 
 

Now, you don't have to be named Steve to be a Steve. It's a state of mind, a way of living, as Dex explains in "The Tao of Steve," a fresh, refreshing romantic comedy opening today at the Harris Theater, Downtown. The opposite of Steve, by the way, is Stu. No one aspires to be a Stu.

The chatty characters, who discuss everything from Josie and the Pussycats to women's unattainable ideal man (the looks of Antonio Banderas, the personality of Fred MacMurray), are only part of this movie's appeal. It takes place in Santa Fe, which is literally a breath of fresh film air after so many movies set in New York, Chicago or Detroit but actually filmed in Canada. The city and its surroundings provide a vivid, unspoiled backdrop for the engaging characters.

In college, Dex (Donal Logue) was a thin and legendary lothario but now he seems an unlikely babe magnet. He's an overweight kindergarten teacher who is having an affair with a married woman -- slipping off to the library with her during their 10th college reunion -- and turning his eye to any woman in his orbit, from the philosophy student tending bar to the blonde drummer who designs opera sets.

The women who wrote "The Rules" have nothing on Dex. He has his own rules, which he shares with a friend who is relationship-challenged. Chief among them: "We pursue that which retreats from us." Preach friendship, feign uninterest and ... score.

Dex continues to act like an overgrown teen -- smoking dope, playing Frisbee golf, working part time -- until he realizes he's really falling for the drummer, Syd (Greer Goodman). Given his track record and her smarts and independence, this isn't going to be easy.

"The Tao of Steve" was directed by Jenniphr (yes, that's how she spells it) Goodman, a native of Santa Fe. She and her husband shared a house in New Mexico with a friend named Duncan North, who was the model for Dex. Jenniphr, sister Greer Goodman and North are all credited with the screenplay. Another Goodman sister named Dana, by the way, plays the bartender.

The range of names dropped into "The Tao of Steve" is something to behold: from television's "The Bugaloos" and Marcia Brady to philosophers Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Lao-tzu. None of this would work, however, without Logue, who was a racist lout in "The Patriot" and a spurned suitor in "Runaway Bride," to name a few of his 50 movie and TV roles.

With his beer gut and scruffy beard, he looks like a regular guy. Logue allows you to like Dex, even as you condemn his womanizing ways and his eagerness to corrupt the corruptible, such as his impressionable pal Dave. The movie has as much fun with its soundtrack -- the tunes include "(I Just Wanna Be) Your Steve McQueen" by Eytan Mirsky -- as with its sunny locales and desert-tone homes.

It's hard to know if Goodman will be a one-hit wonder, given the rich source material North provided, but she definitely seems like a name to watch.



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