The Tao of Steve

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The Tao of Steve
The Tao of Steve VideoCover.jpeg
movie poster
Directed by Jenniphr Goodman
Produced by Anthony Bregman
Written by Duncan North
Greer Goodman
Jenniphr Goodman
Starring Donal Logue
Greer Goodman
James 'Kimo' Wills
David Aaron Baker
Music by Joe Delia
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
Release dates
Running time
87 min
Language English

The Tao of Steve is a 2000 romantic comedy film written by Duncan North, Greer Goodman, and Jenniphr Goodman. It is directed by Jenniphr Goodman and stars Donal Logue and Greer Goodman.

Dex (Logue) is a seemingly unlikely Lothario - an overweight, thirtysomething underachiever - who has developed an effective method for seducing women. He meets up with Syd, an old college conquest whom he can't remember, but to whom he is instantly attracted. However, she never forgot him. Slowly, Dex subjects Syd to the "Tao of Steve", Dex's own highly effective pseudophilosophy on seduction, in which one combines a Taoist outlook with the qualities embodied by TV characters such as Steve Austin (The Six Million Dollar Man) and Steve McGarrett (Hawaii Five-O) and, above all, by the actor Steve McQueen. Surprisingly, Syd is immune to Dex's system of seduction.

The Tao of Steve was produced by Ted Hope and James Schamus' Good Machine production company and released through Sony Pictures Classics. Logue won the 2000 Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Prize for outstanding performance in a dramatic (i.e., narrative) film and the film itself was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize. It was filmed in and around Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the story is set. Although the script never mentions St. John's College, the film includes many visual and verbal references to the seminar-based Great Books program taught there.


The movie opens at a 10-year college reunion that a reluctant Dex has decided to attend in the company of his married friends Rick and Maggie. In his college days, Dex was the stud of the campus, using philosophy as an aphrodisiac to bed a series of young women. After putting the first of what will be successful moves on a student bartender, he finds Rick and Maggie talking with Syd.

Syd is back in town for an upcoming opera production for which she is the designer; she is also staying with Rick and Maggie. While she remembers Dex, his memory of her is a little more fuzzy.

Dex shares a house with three other slacker buddies who spend their free time (along with Rick) engaged variously in playing disc golf, playing poker, and drinking - all while trading quips about philosophy and pop culture. One of the group, Dave, has met a woman and the group decides to help him in his pursuit of her by teaching him their approach to seduction, "The Tao of Steve."

Dex has his own relationship problems, as the woman with whom he has been having an affair, Beth, has started to give off signals that she would leave her husband to be with him. This puts Dex in a bind, as he views her as nothing more than a "friend with benefits".

Meanwhile, Dex is becoming more and more intrigued with Syd, with whom he must carpool after his motorcycle breaks down. Dex is habitually late, often still in his bathrobe and taking long hits on his ever-present bong when she arrives to pick him up.

Syd is not entirely unreceptive to Dex's overtures. But there is a major obstacle to be overcome, for it turns out that Syd was one of Dex's college conquests and the fact that he has completely forgotten about it does little to endear him to her.



Director Jenniphr Goodman, after finishing her studies at New York University's film school, returned with her husband to her childhood home of Santa Fe, where they shared a house with North, a friend from college. Much like his fictional counterpart, North was an overweight kindergarten teacher who nevertheless had astounding success bedding women, including two of Goodman's own friends.

Out of work, Goodman began to have long conversations with North over the next two years, fascinated by his success and philosophy. This led to her wanting to make a film about North, either a documentary or some sort of one-man show. When her sister Greer became involved in 1996, they developed the project into a narrative film.

The Goodman sisters and North spent the next two years writing multiple drafts of the script as it evolved from a personal odyssey story into a romantic comedy. Pre-production began in New Mexico, and Jenniphr hired another NYU alumn, Teo Maniaci, as the cinematographer. Unfortunately, the start date for filming had to be pushed back when the actor they wanted for the lead turned out to be unavailable. During this time, Maniaci had given the script to Anthony Bregman, with whom he had just worked on a film that was made for Bregman's employer, Good Machine.

The delay was fortuitous, as Bregman and Good Machine came aboard as producers. The script went through 10 more drafts that year with Bregman, who comments, "That's one of the luxuries about independent film, you often have time to make the script perfect. You're always waiting for something — an actor's schedule to free up, more money to appear — so you have lots of time to reschedule, re-budget, and rewrite."

The actor in question was Donal Logue, who had been off making what would be John Frankenheimer's final film, Reindeer Games. Shooting began on July 7, 1999.[1]


The film enjoyed mostly positive reviews, with Roger Ebert calling it " easygoing but bright comedy that focuses on Logue's effortless charm (he won the best actor award at Sundance). It creates the feeling of settling in comfortably with old friends... One of the things I like about the movie is the wit of its dialogue, the way sentences and conversations coil with confidence up to a conclusion that is totally unexpected."

David Edelstein of also praises the dialogue: "[The Tao of Steve] has some of the funniest romantic banter in a movie in years..." He says the film "...went down like a slice of warm pecan pie topped with two scoops of Ben & Jerry's Bovinity Divinity."


  1. ^ "Tao of Steve: Production". 1999-07-07. Retrieved 2012-01-07. 

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