It's been an interesting time in independent cinema and certainly, the way its presented. Chains have realized the potential of serving that audience and some have created art-specific theaters that cater to the needs of the audience - one art theater that I've visited even had a full bar and restaurant area. And yet, the industry has had mixed success with product in the past year, with "Tao of Steve" and "Girlfight", two films that had a lot of buzz going in, not finding an audience. Although, several late-year pictures such as "Shadow Of The Vampire" and "Pollock" did.
Although "Tao Of Steve" isn't as substancial as any in that list, it's a cute little movie that has some fun characters and intelligent writing. Donal Logue plays Dex, a schoolteacher in Santa Fe, NM who has gained quite a bit of weight since - well, let's just go with Dex's line that he is now "fat Elvis". Yet, he gets the ladies probably more than he should. This is due to "the Tao of Steve" ("Steve" being a representation of all that is cool), such as how to eliminate obvious desire in order to get women more attracted to you.
Suddenly though, a woman comes into his life that he thinks about committing to. Syd (Greer Goodman - the sister of the director), comes into his life and he begins to think about dropping the lifestyle of sleeping with many different women and just keeping one.
Logue's performance is a great, although not quite outstanding one. He's very funny and has good comic timing. This is evident on his new Fox sitcom (which I believe is called "Grounded For Life" - it's either a not-so-good sign about the show as a whole that I'm not sure about the title or my memory is going), where Logue is probably the best thing about that show. Both Goodmans - actress Greer and director Jenniphr, both do fine here, as well.
"The Tao Of Steve" isn't a groundbreaking film in any way, but I had some good, genuine laughs throughout the film from the smart screenplay and good performances. Look past the goofy ad line on the DVD cover "this guy knows what women really want!"(a take on the successful Mel Gibson Winter flick) and if you're in the mood for a funny, entertaining romantic comedy, check out "Tao Of Steve".
VIDEO: Tristar's presentation of "The Tao Of Steve" is positive in some ways, but there are aspects of the studio's 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer that I found rather dissapointing. Still, the positives first - sharpness and detail are generally very good - the picture looked crisp, sharp and well-defined and didn't have any instances where softness creeped in.
What dissapointed me a bit was that there were some minor print flaws that appeared - not constantly - but at a little quicker rate than I'd expect from a newer picture. Little marks, slight speckles, etc. Pixelation was slightly visible once or twice, but didn't cause a distraction.
I found the film to have especially strong colors, though. The background scenery contributed plenty of deep greens (a sequence where Steve and Syd go camping has some particularly beautiful scenery) and clothing worn by the characters seemed bright and bold. Colors are well-saturated and crisp, with no problems. Aside from the print flaws that are visible, this is a respectable and certainly watchable presentation from Tristar.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby 2.0. The movie doesn't particularly offer much in the way of sound activity, although "Tao" has a fun music score that sounds great. The score is easily the highlight of the audio, sounding crisp and enveloping - and it's a fun score with some good choices. The only problem that I had with the audio is that the dialogue is strangely a little quiet at times. Other than that, it's a passable soundtrack for the kind of material that is on display.
MENUS:: Although menus are not animated, I liked the "book" theme to the backgrounds.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Jenniphr Goodman, actress Greer Goodman, actor Donal Logue, and writer Duncan North. A lot of times, I like when more than one person is in the room discussing a movie for a commentary track - people bounce ideas and analysis off one another and often, things are kept organized. Yet, there are times when organization gets thrown out the window. The commentary for "Tao Of Steve" is one of those times, where the cast starts to talk over one another.
North is actually the inspiration for the "Tao of Steve" and starts off the commentary chatting about how he came up with the theories. The rest of the commentary revolves around the group trying to contribute some interesting facts about the production and often, having someone step over them. Although Donal Logue actually has some of the funniest bits of commentary, he also interrupts the Goodman sisters the most. Overall, its a slightly irritating commentary, but there are some very fun moments and interesting bits if you can go through the group trying to overlap one another's discussion.
Also Trailers for "Tao Of Steve", "The Patriot" and "Jerry Maguire" as well as talent files.
Final Thoughts: It's not anything hugely new and original, but "Tao Of Steve" is a light, smart, funny romantic comedy that has some very good performances. Certainly worth checking out as a rental if you're looking for a romantic comedy.