The Tao of Steve (2000) — Not starring Steve

“You lied about the spider, you lied about the puppy and you’re having an affair!”

Sue’s rating: The Bugaloos! The Bugaloos! We’re in the air and everywhere! Flyin’ high, flyin’ loose, flyin’ free as a summer breeeeeze… Oops. Sorry.

Sue’s review: I don’t want to like this film, but I do. Sort of. How’s that for an enthusiastic recommendation?

The main character of The Tao of Steve is… no, it isn’t anyone named Steve. It’s Dex, a slovenly, underachieving bit of flotsam in the ocean of humanity who has the uncanny ability to bed pretty much any woman he sets his twinkly little eyes on. He is the envy of his better looking, but less successful, male friends, and as such, he has become the acknowledged Master in the perpetual quest for nookie. Sort of a pudgy, pot-smoking, libidinous Obi-Wan Kenobi, if you will.

The ideal of the Tao is to be as Steve-like as possible, because there is no such thing as a dorky Steve. Steve McQueen, Steve Austin, Steve McGarrett (from Hawaii Five-O) — these are the ideal role models. Truthfully, I’ve been sitting here thinking about all the Steves I have known, and so far, I haven’t come across a dorky one, so there may be some truth to this. Hmm. What a shame that I didn’t name my firstborn Steve. Have I inadvertently condemned him to a life of dorkdom? Stay tuned!

Anyway, the classic Steves are uber-cool and ultra-masculine and the girls go ape for them because — this is important — Steves don’t chase girls. Of course, since Steves don’t chase girls, girls are intrigued and infatuated and throw themselves in various states of undress in front of Steves.

In any case, for all you shallow losers out there, the rules of the Tao are as follows:

  1. Eliminate your desire.
  2. Be excellent in her presence.
  3. Retreat.

Oddly enough, even I have to admit there’s a certain logic to this. And even more oddly, this is exactly how I catch a horse that doesn’t want to be caught. Not that girls are horses. (Although some horses are girls.) I should know.

But there is a universal truth that we often want what we’re told we can’t have. The denial (in this case, the retreat) is the hook and it’s something that’s hard-wired into us right from the get-go. This is why toddlers throw temper tantrums over cheesy, overpriced plastic toys in convenience stores until their long-suffering parents cave in and pull out their wallets. This is also why convenience stores stock cheesy overpriced plastic toys.

It works.

Anyway, Dex’s Steve-emulating success has, in some ways, backfired on him. It’s not that he can’t get girls — it’s that he’s been with so many of them, that memory gaps are appearing in his database. This bodes ill when he meets a woman who he’s actually really interested in, (I mean for more than the obvious) and… oops. Well, one of them remembered a certain intimate interlude — and it wasn’t him. Not a great way to start off a relationship.

So I don’t like Dex. He’s cute, smart, warm, charming and definitely personable — but he’s pond slime. I don’t like his modus operandi, or his message. I don’t much like his friends, I don’t much like the girls he gets, and I don’t much like the ending of the movie. Yet, I still enjoyed the film as a whole. That’s got to be some kind of zen, but I don’t know what!

There’s a comfortable feel to the film. The characters and setting were realistic. The dialogue was clever and genuine — except for one word which (Lissa, pay attention) I did not know.* It’s easy to be drawn into this fictional little world, because there’s nothing about it that seems fantastic or unusual or even impossible. Even the actors are mostly unknowns, which makes for less distraction to the story.

So a good flick, but one that will leave some people bitter and cynical. I might have to go meditate on that for a while.

*Solecistic: 1. A mistake in the use of language; a breach of syntax, grammar, etc. 2. Any absurdity, impropriety or incongruity. 3. An instance of bad or incorrect behaviour.


  • The ultimate comfort food experience. Eat directly out of the fridge and share with your dog.
  • Dex is not exactly Mr. Health ‘n Fitness
  • Dex’s vehicle breaks down and he gets to carpool with an attractive member of the opposite sex. My vehicle breaks down and I have to call a cab. This is unfair.
  • In the credits: Based on a story by Duncan North. Based on an idea by Duncan North. Based on Duncan North.
  • Reference to the Bugaloos! (Proving that Sue is not the only person alive who remembers the Bugaloos.)
  • Baskin-Robbins. Mmmm.
  • Getting punched in the face by your lover’s husband in front of your kindergarten class has really got to make for interesting parent-teacher conferences.
  • Solecistic? Dang!

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