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The Tao Of Steve

Fat boys, take heart. Here’s the date movie of your dreams. Director Jenniphr Goodman’s sparkling feature debut has the tang of fresh comic thinking. Dex, played to perfection by Donal Logue, is an overweight kindergarten teacher in New Mexico who attracts women by running the other way. Of course, it helps that Dex is ardent, articulate and charmingly funny. Dex’s study of Eastern philosophy has taught him that we pursue that which retreats from us. Dex stays cool, like his three favorite Steves — actor Steve McQueen and the TV characters Steve McGarrett (“Hawaii Five-O”) and Steve Austin (“The Six Million Dollar Man”) — and the babes flock to him.

All except Syd (Greer Goodman, the director’s sister and a beguiling screen presence), an opera-set designer whom Dex sees at their tenth college reunion. Syd is miffed that Dex doesn’t remember the one night they slept together. Intrigued, Dex puts his philosophy to work. He tells his friend Dave (Kimo Wills) that a man is either a Steve, a master of love, or a Stu, a slave to passion. Dex’s Tao of Steve has three rules: Be cool, be excellent in her presence, and be gone.

Naturally, love hoists Dex on his own Tao. Goodman wrote the scrappy, witty script with her sister and their friend Duncan North, a Santa Fe teacher who’s the prototype for Dex. It’s pure pleasure to encounter a sex comedy with enough verbal smarts to coax laughs out of Lao-tzu, Heidegger, Kierkegaard and Mozart’s Don Giovanni. And Logue, who won a deserved acting prize at Sundance 2000, is a rowdy, romantic wonder. Previously lost in character parts (Reindeer Games, The Patriot), Logue hits every note of humor and heart in his breakthrough role. Don’t miss him. He’s that good.

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