Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Just in case you were rethinking your belief that English majors are the epitome of slack: "The Tao of Steve"

I'll never forget where I first saw this movie: Fargo, North Dakota. It was a very cool restored downtown theater ... all art deco and stuff. There was even a balcony. The movie wasn't bad, either.

That was not quite eight years ago, and I was curious to see how this ode to fat smarta$$es held up now that I was closer to 40 than 30. The answer: not as well.

Set in New Mexico, where adobe abounds, our story follows Dex, an overweight underachiever who passes time smoking pot and teaching kindergarten. Somehow, this guy manages to sleep with all sorts of women, mainly by following a certain code of coolness. But along comes a girl he really likes, and he has to figure out how to be a real person and not the Casanova of Crushing Weight.

There's a lot to like here, starting with Donal Logue as Dex. In the years that followed his debut as rambling cab driver Jimmy in MTV commercials, Logue played a variety of supporting roles -- including my favorite, the "naughty" vampire in "Blade." "Steve" was his shot as leading man, and he's pretty good. Looks horribly out of shape, yet projects plenty of confidence. In a way, he's perfect since a better-known actor would have been a harder sell to get audiences wondering, "What is it with this guy?"

But before you start thinking Dex really is cool, I have to call bullsh!t on a couple of things. One, some girls would fall for the crap he spews, but not all girls, or even all girls minus the one he wants. Would have been more realistic to see him shot down a time or two before the big rejection.

Secondly, the whole plot played out just a little too cute for me the second time around. It's a nice, short movie, and I'm definitely not saying it should have been longer. But the swing in emotions among Dex and his beloved was harder to swallow in so brief a time, and wrapping everything up in a neat package didn't help.

But hey, there's some funny dialogue here, and it's kind of cool to see something set in New Mexico that isn't a Western. And I liked Logue overall. Just wanted a little bit more surprise beyond my amazement at how far our hero's stomach stuck out.


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