“Come As You Are” is about three dudes with disabilities on a quest for getting laid for the first time in their life. While it is sometimes as naughty as its story promise suggests, the movie is actually pretty sweet and likable as handling its story and characters with care and respect, and it surely earns its expected life-affirming finale in the end.
The movie opens with another usual day of Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), a 24-year-old quadriplegic lad who has live with his serious case of disability throughout his whole life. While he has been taken care of well by his caring single mother Liz (Janeane Garofalo), Scotty has been recently quite frustrated with his disabled body beyond his control as feeling more of his growing sexual desire, and he is understandably not so willing to talk about that with his mother although she has been accustomed to seeing his certain body part for years.
Scotty’s daily life usually revolves around a facility for persons with disabilities, and that is where his best friend Mo (Ravi Patel) works. Although he is visually impaired, Mo has been pretty well-adjusted to his disability as shown from his first scene in the film, and we later see him how he works along with the receptionist of the facility without much difficulty.
Not long after Scotty arrives at the facility, a young paraplegic man named Matt (Hayden Szeto) comes, and their first encounter is not so pleasant as Scotty becomes pissed about Matt happening to have a therapy session with a certain female employee to whom he has been attracted. Besides, Matt looks more handsome and confident in comparison, and Scotty cannot help but become petty when Matt happens to be around him again later.
Meanwhile, Scotty comes to learn of a certain place which may provide the solution to his sexual desire. In Montreal, Canada, there is a brothel ready to provide sexual services to persons with disabilities like him, and, after doing some online research on this place, he becomes quite determined to go there by any means necessary. When he suggests his plan to Matt, Matt is not particularly willing to join Scotty, but then he also comes to feel his own need for sex more than before, and Scotty promptly embarks on planning their secret road trip to Montreal along with Matt and Mo, who is reluctant at first but agrees to join Scotty and Matt in the end because, well, he is also eager to have his first sexual experience.
While our three heroes manage to leave their neighborhood without being noticed by Scotty’s mother and Matt’s parents, their following quest turns out to be bumpier than expected. They have already hired a person who will drive a big van for them, but Sam (Gabourey Sidibe) soon sees through their lies right from the beginning, and their plan is on the verge of being canceled when Scotty becomes a bit too rude to Sam at one point. They eventually arrive at a place they are going to stay during the first night of their road trip, but then Sam turns out to have a serious medical condition, and that leads to a series of farcical moments including the scene where our three heroes try to drive the van for themselves (Guess who will take the wheel, by the way?).
Constantly maintaining its lightweight tone, the screenplay by Erik Linthorst, which is based on Belgian film “Hasta la Vista” (2011), leisurely drives from one narrative point to another like many other road trip movies. When our three heroes arrive in Chicago later in the story, they happen to get a jolly good time with Sam at a bar as music is being performed nearby, and it does not take much time for us to discern something mutual being developed between Sam and one of our three heroes. Around the point where these four main characters finally arrive in Montreal, the mood becomes rather bittersweet after one hidden fact is melodramatically revealed, but director Richard Wong, who also served as the editor and cinematographer of his film, and his main cast members find a right balanced position between comedy and drama, and that is the main reason why two crucial scenes during the last act is as effective as intended.
Considering that there have recently been lots of talks and discussions on characters with disabilities played by non-disabled performers, I guess the movie will probably receive some understandable criticism, but Grant Rosenmeyer, who also participated in the production of the film, Ravi Patel, and Hayden Szeto give good performances with considerable chemistry among them, and they also are supported well by several fine veteran performers around them. While Gabourey Sidibe, who has steadily advanced since her Oscar-nominated debut performance in “Precious” (2009), holds her own small place around her three male co-stars, Janeane Garofalo has a good wordless moment when her character comes to know more about her dear son through one of his video clips, and C.S. Lee and Jennifer Jelsema are also well-cast as Matt’s concerned parents.
Overall, “Come As You Are” is quite predictable and conventional in its drive course, but it fairly works well on the whole in terms of story and characters, and I enjoyed the engaging performances from its fine main cast members. Although I am still not so sure about how it will be regarded by the audiences with disabilities similar to the ones presented in the film, it has its heart in the right place at least, and I hope they will appreciate that.