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The Bottom Shelf #136


Santa, the time is soon approaching. While I know that you're no Hiro and you can't bend space and time, I still think it would be dandy if you could find a way to bring these two men to my doorstep next month. Well, mainly just the characters. Because I'd like to do dirty things to them. Thanks Santa!

Directed by: Bob Clark
Starring: Judd Nelson, Elizabeth Perkins, John Hurt

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I'm one of those naive f*cks who's never seen the inside of a courtroom other than when it was to support someone else, and usually that was over a traffic ticket. I've managed to avoid being arrested or charged with any crime and haven't had to deal with lawyers in person. So I can watch movies about the judicial system with a clear conscience. I don't have to fret over whether or not they're being accurate or appropriate. I can just sit back and enjoy the characters. And this was another one of those movies with my former heartthrob Judd Nelson, back in his heyday, so I was defenseless to its charms.

A first year law student, chomping at the bit to get a chance to try a case, Robin Weathers (later nicknamed "Stormy" due to his unpredictable antics in the courtroom and played with a devilishly charming intensity by Nelson) pulls a stunt in order to get a chance at a simple case of battery. When told to drag a 1 day affair into a 3 day stunt, he pulls out all the stunts, much to the bemusement of everyone but the major partners at his law firm. Without knowing all the facts as to how he swung the trial, and with potential new clients begging for the new hot-shot, the partners join together to assign him an "unwinnable" case. John Hurt comes in as a pompous, over-educated, over-bred blue blood asshole, practically stealing the thunder from Nelson, in a rather unlikely turn.

I wasn't all that sure about this movie. Largely forgotten because people were more entranced with the law they got to see on television and disheartened by the frat-boy public antics of Nelson during his personal time, this movie doesn't get the credit that it deserves. The shows that went on to make David E Kelly the affluent man that he is all stem from this movie, the blue print for a lawyer who is charismatic and just willing to step over the line to best suit his own needs but at the same time hasn't completely bludgeoned his moral sense of right and wrong in the pursuit of the media limelight. Perkins is delightfully tame, the perfect offset to much of the over-the-top shenanigans going on by the XYs. And John Hurt takes what could have been just a silly lawyer comedy and makes it deeply disturbing and sinister with a simple sideways glare of his icy cold eyes. But this is still a comedy, and it's a smart and extremely funny one that needs some more attention, even if it's late in the game.

Favorite Scene:

The old school vibrator in the briefcase trick. Although, I think Adam & Eve still might sell that model.

Favorite Line:

Bat shit references abound. While that might not equal me having written down an entire quote, it's just fitting for some of the activities that have been going on in my household as of late. Don't ask.

Trivia Tidbit:

Because this movie was released in 1997, people assume that it was spawned from the popularity of the television show, "LA Law," which was written by David E Kelly, one of the men responsible in writing the script for FROM THE HIP. In reality, Stephen Bochco heard about the script for this movie and hired Kelly to create "Law," a full year before this movie was greenlit. Whew...

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Directed by: Jenniphr Goodman
Starring: Donal Logue, Greer Goodman

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Give me a smart man any day of the week. He could be a fat, drunken, alcoholic slob with low aspirations and zero desire to improve himself and I'd be all over that like shit on a shoe. If he can correctly identify me quoting Milton's Paradise Lost ("I'd rather reign in hell than serve in heaven." - There you go guys, run off and impress a chick with a little something more than knowing the full script to GOODFELLAS) and has a decent shit-eating grin, he's as good as golden in my book. He's as good as golden in most women's books, whether they'd care to admit it or not. Women like to think that they're attracted to good looks, a nice physique, a "great sense of humour," or that almighty wonderment of non-existence: "confidence!" In reality, they're all looking for a man who will make them wonder what the f*ck he's going on about. They'll never quite get most of it, but damned if the sound of it isn't impressive as all get out.

Which is the point of being a Steve as demonstrated by Donal Logue in the role of Dex. Sure, he's a fat, sweaty, stoner slob who works part-time playing with kids at a pre-school, but the man knows who Kierkegaard is! Dex has managed to spend his entire adult life convincing women to chase him, even as he lost what minimal looks he might have had. The concept of being a "Steve" (thus named not because of the name Steve, but the idea that it represents - the cool guy) entails a man learning to let go of his desire for women so that they will pursue what retreats from them. Be desireless. Be excellent. Be gone. Which works for Dex up until he reconnects with a woman that he went to school with years ago. Syd has her reasons for not trusting Dex but in the end falls for his shtick once more. The tricky part comes when Dex finds himself falling in return.

THE TAO OF STEVE is a smart movie that manages to be non-exclusionary. You don't have to have gone to college or know who Kierkegaard was in order to get what's going on here. There is a magic in a smart movie which doesn't condescend to its less intelligent viewers. If you're not following along with the literary references, you can very easily live vicariously through Dave (played by the borderline retarded-looking Kimo Wills, smiling more than any developmentally disabled person that I've ever worked with does) who gets the run-down on how to become a Steve. But the heart of the movie isn't that it's about the guy line of thinking. It's that this movie is a chick flick in disguise, summed up beautifully by the comment about Don Giovanni, that being a man who slept with thousands of women because he was afraid he couldn't be loved by just one. Gotcha!

Favorite Scene:

When Dex is spraying canned whipped cream into his dog's mouth.

Favorite Line:

"Doing stuff is overrated. Like Hitler. He did a lot. But don't we all wish he woulda just stayed home and gotten stoned?"
"Oh, I see. So you're only options are to get stoned or commit genocide?"

Trivia Tidbit:

Donal Logue swore off alcohol in 1991, after watching 4 of his friends die from alcoholism. In the movie, his character is pretty consistently seen swilling booze but in reality, all the drinks were switched with non-alcoholic substitutes.

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Yes, I still get crushes on non-existent people. Don't lie, you know you get them too.



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1:52PM on 11/29/2007

Tao of Steve

I remember reading about this movie when it came out and I placed it in my Netflix queue. Many years later, it is still in my queue. But your review helped me remember this movie, now my interest in it has returned!
I remember reading about this movie when it came out and I placed it in my Netflix queue. Many years later, it is still in my queue. But your review helped me remember this movie, now my interest in it has returned!
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