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The Tao of Steve
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 date(s) January 26, 2000 (Sundance Film Festival)
Running time 87 min
Language English

The Tao of Steve is a 2000 independent 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.

In the film, Dex (Logue) is a seemingly unlikely thirtysomething Lothario - an underachieving, overweight, well educated former philosophy student turned Kierkegaard-quoting part-time kindergarten teacher - who has developed an effective method for serial-seducing women. He meets up with Syd, an old college conquest whom he can't remember. She never forgot him and slowly falls for the lures of the Tao.

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 (ie, 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.



The movie opens at a ten-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, a much thinner Dex was the stud of the campus, using philosophy as an aphrodisiac to bed many of his classmates. After putting the first of what will be successful moves on a coed amateur bartender, he finds Rick and Maggie talking with Syd.

Syd is back in town for not only the reunion, but also an upcoming opera production for which she is the designer while staying with Rick and Maggie. While she remembers Dex, his memory of her is little more fuzzy.

Dex shares a house with three other semi-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."


What is the Tao?

Dex christened the Tao after the detached cool exhibited by three Steves of the world, Steve McQueen, Steve Austin from The Six Million Dollar Man, and Steve McGarrett on Hawaii Five-0.

The Tao itself is the philosophy that Dex employs to succeed sexually with women. It consists of three rules:

  1. Eliminate your desires.
  2. Do something excellent in her presence, thereby proving your sexual worthiness.
  3. Retreat, for as Martin Heidegger said, "We pursue that which retreats from us".

Or, as Dave later recaps it:

  1. Be desireless
  2. Be excellent
  3. Be gone

However, there is one problem for Dave - he is less of a "Steve" and more of a "Stu." When told that a "Stu" is someone like Barney Fife or Jughead Jones (from the Archie Comics), Dave storms off.

Dex has his own relationship problems, as the woman he has been having an affair with, Beth (the woman from the library stacks), has started to give off signals that she would leave her husband for Dex. This puts Dex in a bind, as he obviously 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 using Rick's spare truck when Dex's motorcycle breaks down. It is a situation Syd finds intolerable as Dex is habitually late, often finding him 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.


  • Donal Logue - Dex
  • Greer Goodman - Syd
  • David Aaron Baker - Rick
  • James 'Kimo' Wills - Dave
  • Nina Jaroslaw - Maggie
  • Ayelet Kaznelson - Beth


The story of The Tao of Steve is the story of Duncan North, the co-writer of the film. Director Jenniphr Goodman, after finishing her studies at NYU'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. Same as 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 life-philosophy. This led to her wanting to make a film about North, either a documentary or some sort of one-man show. Yet it was when her sister Greer, at the time a New York based actress, became involved in 1996 that the project developed into a narrative film based on Duncan North as a character named "Dex."

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. At that point, in 1998, pre-production was started in New Mexico and Jenniphr hired another NYU alumn, Teo Maniaci, to be the cinematographer. Unfortunately, the start date for filming had to be pushed back when the actor they wanted for the lead would not be available. During this time, Maniaci had given the script to Anthony Bregman who he had just worked with on 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..." and adding, "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."


  • In addition to Jenniphr (director, co-writer) and Greer (lead actress, co-writer), younger sister Dana Goodman also appears in the film as the bartender that Dex beds early in the film.
  • The house used as Dex's home is in fact Duncan North's actual house. The disc golf course shown in the film is an actual course. In addition, the house used as Rick and Maggie's is the director's home she shares with her husband Erik.
  • The character of Rick is based on Jenniphr's own husband, Erik, who is a friend of Duncan North's.

External links


  1. ^ [1]


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Tao of Steve is a 2000 independent 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.


You must learn to eliminate your desire. - Dex

If you're out with this girl and you're even thinking about getting laid, you're finished. Because women can smell an agenda like shit on a shoe. - Dex

...when I'm hanging out with a woman, that's all I'm doing is hanging out—talking, listening. I'm not sitting there thinking about how to get in bed with her and this completely confuses them, because they're saying, "Wait a minute. I'm so much better looking than this guy. Isn't he attracted to me?" The basic principle: We pursuer that which retreats from us. - Dex

Act like a woman can't join your club and she'll do almost anything to get in. - Friend of Dex's

Getting out of that category of friend is harder than getting out of Alcatraz. - Dex

You have to do something excellent in her presence thus demonstrating your sexual worthiness. - Dex

Don Giovanni slept with thousands of women because he was afraid he wouldn't be loved by one. - Syd

Have you ever noticed how at the beginning of a relationship, right, a guy will do just about anything with his girlfriend because just the thought of seeing her naked gets him excited about going to the opera. - Dex

We purse that which retreats from us. - Dex

Look chicks are like hunters, man. They want to bag a lion or a bear, something really hard to catch. And along comes Dave, you know, and you're like this affectionate little puppy. You're cute, but you're way too easy to catch and that bores them and with chicks, boredom equals death, man. You can't bore them. - Dex

Don't pretend. Just really let go of your desire. - Dex

Dave: "I'm not looking for enlightenment, Dex. I'm looking for a girlfriend—that’s it." Dex: "It's all connected."

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