The Tao of Steve is evidence of a great new phenomenon in filmmaking: chick directors are making movies about guys and not spending the whole time bashing their male characters over the head with feminist rhetoric. As Jenniphr Goodman’s first feature, The Tao of Steve is a long-awaited testament to the idea that sometimes girl filmmakers have interesting things to say about men too, and not just “I hate you.”
Focusing on the unlikely caricatured character of Dex, our modern man main character is an overweight, pot-smoking, egomaniacal kindergarten teacher. Played to a neat tee by ex-Cabdriver Jimmy McBride of MTV notoriety, Dex lives in Santa Fe, preaches plenty of abstract theory on how to get laid a la Heidegger, steers at the helm of a posse of similarly slacker 30-something male roommates, and at the movie’s start finds himself schlepping about his ten year college reunion.
Turns out, Dex’s so-called Tao of Steve is an agenda based on the average fellow trying to be as much like Steve McQueen as possible, talking his way into girls pants while playing as hard to get as the girls in The Rules. While Dex is still a lothario-laying pervert who, regardless of his lack of looks or Fabio-physique can bag pretty much any broad he meets, when he meets the hard-a*s blonde specter of Syd (Greer Goodman) at the reunion, all his claptrap about lying to get laid slowly begins to fall apart. Dex soon learns there’s more to life than spouting bullshit abstractions when you could actually be living, and that there’s more to women than just getting in the poontang.
The movie, based on and co-written by one Duncan North who is purportedly the real Dex, lives and dies on the portrayal of Dex, and McBride wholly meets the challenge, simply playing a man realizing he might need to do some revising. Goodman’s touch is sometimes romantic, but mostly pretty frank, and the movie visually looks like more than the indie it once was. The Tao of Steve bodes well not just for men in women’s movies, but for this director at her first time out.