Come As You Are, 2020.
Directed by Richard Wong.
Starring Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel, and Gabourey Sidibe.
Three disabled men are joined by a van driver on a road trip to lose their virginity at a brothel in Canada.
Come As You Are reminds me of the raunchy teen comedies of the early 2000s. While not everyone remembers those films fondly, American Pie, Road Trip, and even Super Troopers all stuck with me. So venturing into this movie was a delightful throwback in many ways, but one can’t help but notice the growth in this sub-genre.
I’m by no means calling this a “mature” film, but I think there’s a real attempt to say something with the film rather than just providing a few laughs. Come As You Are features three disabled lead characters, each with a unique perspective in life and about their disabilities. Before watching the film, I worried this would feel exploitive or like a gimmick for the film to feel a bit more hollowly edgy, but thankfully that wasn’t the case. I’m by no means the final judgment on the film’s handling of the subject matter, but I couldn’t help but find it done with care and not any malicious intent.
That being said, don’t think this is a sanitized teen comedy in an attempt not to shock or offend. From the film’s opening moment, Come As You Are understands what it needs to do with its story and how to make the most out of it for comedy’s sake.
The story of Come As You Are is relatively simple, which allows them to jam-pack it with great gags and still have room for heart-warming moments. Three friends are sick of their disabilities getting in the way of their life, especially when it comes to their sex lives. Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) is our ring leader, the one who gets Matt (Hayden Szeto) and Mo (Ravi Patel) to join him on a wild adventure to a brothel in Canada.
On the very surface, Scotty is a bit off-putting with his brash personality and pushy attitude, but I think Rosenmeyer plays him so well that I could never find him as annoying as the movie wanted me to feel. There’s a real earnestness to him, and I truly found Scotty to be a tremendously endearing character.
Matt is another wonderful role that Hayden Szeto brings to life so well. With a bit more layers to him than Mo or Scotty, Matt is someone that adds a soul to this whole piece. Not to forget Mo, Ravi Patel is a great straight man to all of the more ridiculous characters. Not that I didn’t enjoy Mo, but his character is always meant to break up the fun, though Patel still gets some time to be his usual goofy self.
Come As You Are comes into its own, though, when this trio adds a new member in the form of Gabourey Sidibe as Sam. She’s a change of pace from the other characters and adds a good back-and-forth with everyone. Sidibe is an actress that makes me intrigued each time I see her name; she’s usually adding something great to any piece.
Director Richard Wong is always working in the industry, with most of his work being a cinematographer. That’s apparent here as for a standard comedy, the movie has a much better look than usual. He’s even the editor of Come As You Are, another solid part of this overall package. All of this should be enough to get him a bigger Hollywood gig, as Wong directs this better than most of the mainstream counterparts.
Not just in the style and craftsmanship, but how he works with his actors to deliver solid performances throughout the film. Wong brings all of these actors together with such good chemistry and even better line readings. Each moment feels so honest and real, even though I know it took a lot to perfect it, given the scene’s complicated blocking.
That’s another good testament to Wong’s craft as he makes the scenes feel alive. Having one blind character and two in a wheelchair isn’t the easiest to make work with framing and flow of a scene, but it works wonderfully here. There’s a shot early in the film where Scotty is out of focus in the back, while Mo and Matt talk in the foreground. The way you never lose where Scotty is while Mo and Matt are building their bond, then it racks over to Scotty for his comedic line; that’s just a great piece of filmmaking.
Impressive filmmaking for an independent comedy makes this stand out among the many that you see released yearly, and you couple that with its stellar acting performance, and you can see why this it works so well. American remakes of foreign comedies rarely work (Downhill, The Upside), but this remake of the Belgian film Hasta la Vista is a wonderful exception.
For the nostalgia of a hilarious sub-genre that we don’t see often, and for a heart-warming tale of three friends trying to find themselves, Come As You Are is worthwhile viewing for anyone.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★