Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) has been a “disabled person” his entire life. The only things working on him are his brain and his junk, which brings him to the idea to journey to Canada and experience carnal knowledge for the first time. But, he must enlist fellow-disabled Matt (Hayden Szeto) and visually-challenged Mo (Ravi Patel) to make his plan a reality in “Come as You Are.”
Director Richard Wong and writer Eric Linkhorst create an amiable road trip movie that feels familiar in its execution but has a good heart throughout. Cinematographer-turned-director Richard Wong reprises the 2011 Belgian road comedy, “Hasta la Vista,” and brings this buddy road movie to our shores. Hence, it is familiar tale.
As Scotty suffers the indignity of his physical state with a burning intensity – his mom (Janeane Garofalo) takes care of him, including giving him baths and cleaning his junk. What he wants most, being a 24-year old virgin, is to get laid. The story, by scripter Eric Linthorst, has Scotty getting advise from another disabled guy who gives him a business card for Le Chateau Paradis in Montreal, a brothel where special needs are catered to and Scotty, Matt and Mo are assured his dreams of sex will, finally, become real.
This begins the road trip as Scotty, with a lot of pleading, gets Matt and Mo to join him on the trip. They hire a former nurse, Sam (Gabourey Sidibe), as their driver and reluctant caretaker, and hit the road. The only problem is both Scotty and Matt lied to their parents, telling them that they are taking a guy trip to the Great Lakes. Now, the trio has to get to their fantasy destination AND evade the parents who are hot on their trail.
The story, as I said, is an amiable romp as the three players have adventures along the way to their perception of Nirvana. All of the characters grow and change during the journey and things do not quite end up as expected. This makes for a remake tale that has its own dynamic and flow – and comedy and tragedy. I give it a B.
Since birth, Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer, "The Royal Tenenbaums") has been afflicted with a condition that immobilizes him, but doesn’t inhibit his sexual response, a situation that mortifies him daily with his matter-of-fact mom Liz (Janeane Garofalo). When another wheelchair bound man slips him a flyer for Le Chateau Paradis in Montreal, a brothel specializing in special needs clients like him, Scotty convinces his legally blind friend Mo (Ravi Patel, "Meet the Patels") and new paraplegic rival Matt (Hayden Szeto, "The Edge of Seventeen") to pool their resources for a van and driver, give their parents the slip and take off on a road trip to lose their virginity in “Come As You Are.”
Combining two elements often associated with teen comedies, writer Erik Linthorst, adapting the 2011 Belgian film "Hasta la Vista" based on the life of Asta Philpot (who cameos here), hasn’t come up with anything new, but he, director Richard Wong and a beautifully cast ensemble (Janeane Garofalo, where have you been?) earn honest laughs mined from truth and characterization. While not up to the more original ‘van driver with disabled clients’ comedy “Give Me Liberty,” “Come As You Are” feels surprisingly fresh, favoring the warmth and humor derived from real friendship and romance over the more obvious sexual hijinx one might expect.
The characters are well established before they hit the road, Scotty determined to get back at Mo at the rehab center for scheduling ‘new guy’ Matt, aka ‘Biceps,’ with his preferred physical therapist Becky (Daisye Tutor) while leaving him with the ‘hairy Romanian’ Renaldo. When Scotty cooks up his scheme, Matt initially rejects it flat out, but his traditional Asian, less-than-permissive parents Roger (C.S. Lee) and Maryanne (Jennifer Jelsema) rouse his rebelliousness and he enlists little sister Jamie (Martha Kuwahara) to help him pack. Matt and Mo begin to get nervous when Scotty doesn’t arrive at their prearranged meeting place on time (he is desperately powering his chair back and forth in an attempt to pick up his bag), but when their van pulls up and they realize their driver, Sam ("Precious's" Gabourey Sidibe), is a woman, they freak out. Scotty’s late arrival leaves them no room for questions and off they go.
These four travelers not only have a destination looming on the horizon, but panicked parents in their rear view. Once Sam learns the true nature of their journey, she not only becomes an invaluable ally, but also a fellow traveler in more ways than one. The four actors are all perfectly pitched – Rosenmeyer a humorously anger-fueled upstart, Patel his meek opposite, Szeto the somewhat mysterious newcomer, Sidibe a warmly committed coconspirator – for an odd double couple road trip. The four family members on their trail are also nicely balanced, the two moms teaming up against the one dad in recognizing their sons needs require loosening the leash.
The film is full of the type of throwaway small details that define true flavor. Liz ignores Scotty’s ‘pitched tent.’ A perfectly serious little girl buys condoms for her big brother. Parents are kept waiting by a motel clerk dealing with a paranormal room event. A third act dive into sentimentality works because it is so unexpected while underlining the film’s real message, even if Wong leans a little heavily here, reluctant to wrap up. “Come As You Are” is a genuinely entertaining message movie with real heart.
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