COME AS YOU ARE
(director: Richard Wong; screenwriter: Erik Linthorst; cinematographer: Richard Wong; editor: Richard Wong; music: Jeremy Turner; cast: Grant Rosenmeyer (Scotty), Gabourey Sidibe (Sam), Ravi Patel (Mo), Hayden Szeto (Matt), Jennifer Jelsema (Maryanne), Janeane Garofalo (Liz), C.S. Lee (Roger), Martha Kuwahara (Jamie, Matt’s little sister); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jacqueline E. Ingram, Grant Rosenmeyer, Barrett Stuart; Samuel Goldwyn Films; 2019)
“A sympathetic diversity humanistic film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A loose remake of Geoffrey Enthoven’s 2011 Belgian film Hasta La Vista, which was not released in the States, easily transfers the tale from Europe to middle America. It was originally based loosely on the true story of the disability activist Asta Philpot, who has arthrogryposis, a debilitating joint disorder.
This crowd-pleasing comical road movie is safely directed as a sympathetic diversity humanistic film by the San Franciscan Richard Wong (“Colma: The Musical”/“Option 3” ). Though some may question why it casts able-bodied actors in the lead roles when this you would think would be the perfect opportunity to cast actors with special needs, nevertheless the acting is convincing and solid.
Writer Erik Linthorst chronicles the story of three physically challenged young men at a physical therapy center who are convinced by the horny paralyzed sarcastic white guy, the 24-year-old, Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), an aspiring rapper, to go on a road-trip, across eight states, to Montreal, in order to lose their virginity at a “special needs” bordello called Le Chateau Paradis, one that was created by a disabled man. The other two disabled pals are the timid clinic worker, the 35-year-old legally blind Asian Mo (Ravi Patel), and the recently disabled handsome wheelchair-bound white boxer Matt (Hayden Szeto), who like Scotty takes physical therapy and lives with his overbearing parents (C.S. Lee & Jennifer Jelsema) and sister (Martha Kuwahara), Both set of parents will worry when they discover that their sons are missing and initiate a manhunt for them.
The two men in their twenties, who live with their parents, sneak out of the house to hit the road after they hire this amazing huge black female nurse Sam (Gabourey Sidibe). She rents a handicap-accessible van to take them on their liberating cross-country venture. The no-nonsense Sam was not told her mission as driver/caretaker was to get the boys to a whore house, and how she handles the news when she learns of this is good for a few laughs. Eventually she’ll calm down and even manage to get along with them all, including with the nasty Scotty and have a romance with Mo.
Scotty’s congenital defect makes him almost completely dependent on his over-protective loving mom Liz (Janeane Garofalo),, which might explain his constant irritability. He is embittered about his lousy fate in life and he openly shows how badly he feels about being cheated in life by being rude. This surfaces once again when he resents Matt because he’s assigned to the prettiest therapist.
As in most self-discovery journeys, the journey itself and not the end result is the most important thing. This gentle sexual liberation film seconds that notion. And in its simplicity, lets us see sex therapy delivered as a legitimate medical service for those in need of it. Though, I suppose, there are those who might oppose it for religious reasons or whatnot.
REVIEWED ON 2/26/2020 GRADE: B