Film & TV

9 Movies That Demonstrate How to Do an Excellent Thing in a Woman’s Presence

The Tao of Steve explained
BY Mark Jackson TIMEApril 18, 2021 PRINT

R | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 1 September 2000 (USA)

Here are nine movies that demonstrate how to do an excellent thing in a woman’s presence. What does that even mean, you ask? Any young man … scratch that—any man, of any age, who finds women baffling and mysterious, needs to watch 2000’s “The Tao of Steve,” starring Donal Logue. It explains completely  how to “do an excellent thing in a woman’s presence.”

“The Tao of Steve” is about pudgy, nondescript Steve, who understands the language of women and how to make them fall in love with him. Or at least how to get them to take notice. It’s like finding the holy grail.

movie poster showing a man in blue jeans and blue t-shirt in 9 Movies That Demonstrate How to Do an Excellent Thing in a Woman's Presence
Movie poster for “The Tao of Steve,” starring Donal Logue. (Thunderhead Productions)

The great thing about “The Tao of Steve” is that you think you’re in the presence of a genius for the duration of the movie. But then, if you do some research, you find out later that a woman wrote the script, which makes it even more awesome, because it’s like hiding in a  Trojan horse and sneaking into the enemy’s stronghold and deciphering their language. Is that a good metaphor? Maybe setting a thief to catch a thief … anyway you get the idea.

In love—as in all things—there are laws. There are rules. There are archetypal things that must take place. The main rule of “The Tao of Steve” is that in order to really get a woman or girl’s attention, a man or boy must “do an excellent thing in her presence.”

man in hawaiian shirt at party in 9 Movies That Demonstrate How to Do an Excellent Thing in a Woman's Presence
Steve (Donal Logue, center) scopes out “the talent” at a party, in “The Tao of Steve.” (Thunderhead Productions)

What’s a universal example of an excellent thing? The ritual mating dances of male birds. We’re all aware of this. You can YouTube a million variations of male birds working very, very hard to do a fancy dance, build something impressive, or display some dazzling plumage to impress the female bird.

Let us have a look at one of those right now. I highly recommend watching the following video until the dance performance. The BBC does this rather well (especially Sir Richard Attenborough). The music is hysterical. Without further ado, I give you—the Bird of Paradise (doing an excellent thing, in her presence):

9 Movies That Demonstrate How to Do an Excellent Thing in a Woman’s Presence

And now for examples of male humans in movies who attempt to do an excellent thing in the presence of a female human.

1) ‘Say Anything’

The signature scene from 1989’s “Say Anything” is the boombox scene, in which lovestruck Lloyd (John Cusack) stands in a park near Diane’s (Ione Skye) bedroom window, wordlessly and resolutely holding up a cassette player blasting Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” Is that an excellent thing? Try holding your arms over your head for the duration of that song.

2) ‘Blue Valentine’

Ryan Gosling plays the ukulele and “sings stupid” for Michelle Williams. Actually he sings stupid … rather awesomely.

3) ‘Titanic’

When Rose (Kate Winslet) looks through Jack Dawson’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) sketchbook and is amazed.

4) ‘Love, Actually’

An excellent thing is done in Keira Knightley’s character’s presence. It’s a terribly bitter-sweet moment, but wait till the end to see her reaction. It’s wrong, of course to do a great thing in a married woman’s presence (which in this case is telling the truth) but you can tell this man just needed to tell his truth, in order to maintain his sanity.

5) ‘The Bourne Identity’

This is not immediately apparent as an excellent romantic thing. It is, however, a powerful demonstration of alpha-male dominance, of guarding the territory and physically protecting a woman from a lethal onslaught.

Which, when the dust settles, translates into one of the most impressive, great things that can be done in the presence of a woman. Because she’s feeling, “I’m still alive! Maybe I’m also … in love?” German actress Franka Potente’s borderline going-into-shock acting is stellar.

6) ‘Bull Durham’

It’s quite fun to watch the young Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins in “Bull  Durham‘s” classic scene, where Sarandon’s character has managed to get two men vying for her attention. Maybe a video of two bull (Durham) moose squaring off should have been included, with the demure doe moose hiding behind a tree watching intently, to ascertain who will win her hoof.

Because that’s exactly what’s going on here, but as Costner’s “Crash” Davis says, he doesn’t tryout anymore. As he gets ready to leave, he lays a long monologue about his beliefs and passions on Sarandon’s Annie. It’s an excellent verbal thing done in her presence, and it gets her terribly excited. But he himself can’t be bothered, which means Crash has already mastered the first and third laws of the Tao of Steve (see below). Which of course bothers her even more.

7) ‘Witness’

“Witness” was a star vehicle for Harrison Ford to expand into super-stardom, riding on his “Star Wars” success. He plays John Book, a detective escaping from a murderous crew of corrupt colleagues by hiding out in an Amish community. The Amish family who nurses him back to health after he crashes his car on their property includes a young widow, Rachel (Kelly McGillis of “Top Gun” fame).

It’s during the most excellent Amish barn-raising scene (where they took the opportunity to showcase Harrison Ford’s real-life pro carpentry skills) that he, John Book, does a great thing in Rachel’s presence. He builds that barn, by golly. Carpentry skills are highly valued among the Amish. It’s an enchanting scene.

8) ‘Top Gun’

Speaking of Kelly McGillis in “Top Gun,” Tom Cruise’s Maverick also does an excellent thing in her presence—in “Top Gun.” He tells her about a cowboy move he pulled in an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet where he flipped the jet inverted so it was canopy-to-canopy with a Russian MiG fighter—in a 4-G supersonic dive. What was the purpose of this move? To keep up “international relations” via … hand gestures. The concept is such an outstandingly excellent thing, narrated in her presence, that Maverick’s supreme cockiness can be forgiven!

9) ‘The Mask’

When Jim Carrey’s Mask character takes Tina (Cameron Diaz) for a supernormal, ravishing dance.

Go Try It

So, these were examples of the second rule of the “Tao of Steve”: Doing an excellent thing in her presence. The first rule of Steve is “eliminating desire” (never go on a first date without first expunging all thoughts of lust), and the third, to quote Steve himself, “We pursue that which retreats from us. Don’t be a puppy. Because that bores chicks. Boredom equals death. Be the thing that retreats.”

The next episode will contain examples of the third rule of the “Tao of Steve.” In the movies.

Mark Jackson is the senior film critic for The Epoch Times. Mark has 20 years experience as a professional New York actor, a classical theater training, a BA in philosophy, and recently narrated the Epoch Times audiobook, “How the Specter of Communism is Ruling Our World”: https://www.thespecterofcommunism.com/en/audiobook/
Rotten Tomatoes page:
https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/mark-jackson/movies

Mark Jackson
Film Critic
Mark Jackson is the senior film critic for The Epoch Times. Mark has 20 years' experience as a professional New York actor, classical theater training, and a BA in philosophy. He recently narrated the Epoch Times audiobook “How the Specter of Communism is Ruling Our World,” and has a Rotten Tomatoes author page.
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