The Tao of Steve

The “Steve” whose philosophy is espoused in Jenniphr Goodman’s indie film is every studly Steve who ever lived in movies, Steve McQueen being the prime example.

These are the men who never seemed to care about getting the girl, but who always got them anyway. “Steve is the prototypical cool American male,” says Dex (Donal Logue), the film’s protagonist and chief advocate of the Tao of Steve.

In this breezy, blissfully unimportant wisp of a film, Dex teaches the Tao of Steve to young novice Dave (James “Kimo” Wills), who — poor, misguided young lad — still believes that just being himself is the best way to get a woman into bed.

Well, that’s being unfair to Steve. In actuality, the philosophy is not to lie about your intentions, but to actually change your intentions. First, you eliminate the desire to sleep with her. Don’t just act like you’re not thinking about it — actually don’t think about it. Second, you “do something excellent in her presence.” Third, you “retreat.” “We pursue that which eludes us,” Dex says several times. If the woman thinks you don’t want her, she’ll chase you all the more.

It’s not quite as sexist as it sounds, especially as the movie centers around Dex slowly having to break his own rules when he finds himself falling in love with an old college acquaintance, Syd (Greer Goodman, co-writer and sister of director Jenniphr). He also has to realize that not all women are alike (although, one might surmise from the film, most men are).

Donal Logue is fantastic as Dex, coming across as very natural and charmingly unkempt. Dex was thin in college, when he studied philosophy; now he’s rather fat and unshaven, exuding both personality and sweat from every pore, and smart as a whip. Dex is a slacker now (“Doing stuff is overrated,” he says), working part-time at a day-care center and smoking pot for breakfast every morning. And he’s just about the most likable character in any movie this year. He could be the only character in the movie, and it would be just as fun.

Greer Goodman is a treat as Syd, too, portraying her with average beauty and strong convictions. Syd and Dex’s philosophical discussions and quibbles are smart and funny (they both have an affection for the word “solipsistic”); only a few scenes have strained dialogue or forced humor. (Unfortunately, one of those scenes is the first one, in which Dex uses the ingredients in a Long Island iced tea as metaphors for the world’s religions.)

Aside from a couple things that happen too conveniently and a bit of the aforementioned strained dialogue, “The Tao of Steve” is an enjoyable, light-weight film full of humor and wit.

B (; R, pretty heavy profanity, drug use, non-graphic.)