In a world where dippy dating manuals like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus are standard issue for American womanhood, a sharp, classy movie that pokes sly fun by advocating a similarly cynical guy-targeted version should clean up. Sadly, The Tao Of Steve isn't that movie.
Like its central figure Dex, TOS is a shambling, flabby and only occasionally charming mess. It doesn't have any great ambition - it's just content to score a few laughs here and there, perhaps get itself quoted on one or two websites and then slip happily in-to minor cult status on video or DVD.
While she does pull off some nifty blends of music and camera moves, Jenniphr Goodman clearly didn't have a lot of money to play with here. The bleached and grainy look of the film testifies to that. On the plus side though, she has managed to coax some solid performances out of her largely unknown cast, plus an excellent one from Donal Logue as Dex. Despite his ridiculously chunky build (which has to be down to some sort of beer-belly prosthetic), he manages to invest Dex with more than enough roguish charm to makes him a believable ladykiller.
The problems come with script and structure. Too reliant on its good but occasionally oversmart dialogue and feeling oddly stretched even at less than 90 minutes, The Tao Of Steve never puts in the effort needed to bring any characters other than Dex into focus. What makes Syd any different to the other girls Dex beds? Why can't you remember the names of any of Dex's buddies? Why does it feel like you could chop random five or 10-minute- long chunks out of the middle section without the film losing anything at all?
The real shame about TOS isn't that it's not as smart or as cool as it thinks it is. It's that it's not as smart or as cool as you think it could have been.
Despite being sporadically enjoyable and frequently quotable, this is far too lazy an effort to really succeed. Still, Logue, director Goodman and screenwriter Duncan North deserve to graduate on to bigger and better things.