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With: Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel, Gabourey Sidibe, Janeane Garofalo, C.S. Lee, Jennifer Jelsema
Written by: Erik Linthorst
Directed by: Richard Wong
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 106
Date: 02/14/2020

Come As You Are (2020)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Step Brothel

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A remake of a 2011 Belgian film, this heartwarming and funny misfit road comedy perfectly translates to English, and also smoothly overcomes the potential pitfalls of too many creaky formula twists.

In Come As You Are, 24 year-old paraplegic Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) is unhappy with his life and usually lashes out with sarcasm. At his regular therapy center, he takes an instant dislike to handsome newcomer Matt (Hayden Szeto), a former athlete that has lost the use of his legs. But when Scotty finds out about a brothel in Canada that services those with disabilities, Scotty dreams up a plan to lose his virginity.

First, he must recruit two others in order to rent a wheelchair-accessible van. Matt is a likely candidate, and so is 35-year-old, legally blind Mo (Ravi Patel) who works at the clinic, and is also a virgin. To start, Scotty and Matt must escape from their worrying, controlling parents, but then they must contend with their driver, Sam, who unexpectedly turns out to be a woman (Gabourey Sidibe), and one who isn't about to take any guff from anyone.

The director, San Franciscan Richard Wong, brings the same kind of surprising freshness to Come As You Are that he brought to his delightful (and little-seen) Colma: The Musical, somehow transcending cliché with a burst of sheer brightness and joy. On paper, the four main characters could easily be "types," locked into certain behaviors, but the writing, directing, and acting bring them all to life.

Rosenmeyer is plenty of fun, affecting a kind of swagger even from his wheelchair. He's loud and rude and infantile, but still somehow lovable; he comes from a place of hurt and truth. The others, likewise, effectively layer levels of humanity into their characters, making them pop into three dimensions.

The parent characters — delightfully played by Janeane Garofalo and C.S. Lee, among others — are likewise heartfelt, and not just pursuing buzz-killers. Better still, Come As You Are is brave enough to take the final step, exploring precisely what a sexual encounter actually means for these guys, without being graphic, and coming up with a most satisfying conclusion.

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