A refreshing representation of on screen disability is let down by an otherwise unremarkable and forgettable script
There aren’t many premises that sound more generic than “road trip sex comedy,” and though the punnily titled Come As You Are does have one key USP – the three friends at the crux of the story are disabled – it never escapes this predictability, making for an instantly forgettable slice of light entertainment.
A remake of a Belgian film from 2013, itself based on a true story, Richard Wong’s movie follows three American men as they take a trip to Montreal to lose their virginities at a brothel that specialises in servicing people whose disabilities get in the way of their sex lives. These men are perpetually horny quadriplegic Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), paraplegic student Matt (Hayden Szeto), and blind community centre manager Mo (Ravi Patel).
Come As You Are starts refreshingly enough and, though the lead actors are able-bodied, offers a more nuanced portrayal of disabled characters. The lead trio don’t simply exist to make able-bodied people feel inspired by their struggles and get their own funny moments entirely separate from their disabilities, whether it’s Scotty’s cringe-inducing rapping or Mo’s petty revenge schemes.
However, as the journey progresses, these sequences become fewer and farther between as the plot becomes ever more hackneyed, jokes giving way to glaringly obvious emotional beats that are never really earned. Uninspired needle drops and workmanlike direction only add to the feeling that you’ve turned on a movie from the ‘90s by mistake, and the gently charming lead performances can only do so much to mitigate these issues.
There’s also something morally dubious in the film’s “right to sex” message, given how prevalent an idea it currently is amongst the most grotesque online communities of incels. While a frank discussion of the idea might be too heavy for a dramedy of this ilk, the lack of female presence in the lead trio makes the notion just a little toxic. Come As You Are does make some attempt to correct this in the character of Sam (Gabourey Sidibe), the driver and nurse who acts as both carer and confidante to the guys on their trip, but the film isn’t always entirely sure what to do with her, despite Sidibe’s strong work.
All of this could be forgiven if the film was funnier but there’s a dearth of memorable gags. Erik Linthorst’s script is more than capable of raising smiles and some chuckles throughout, but there are only a couple of big laughs across an overextended 106 minute runtime, and these are all claimed by Scotty, rendering the other characters notably dull in comparison.
Though the lack of actually disabled actors feels like a missed opportunity, Come As You Are does feel like a step forward for disabled representation in mainstream, crowd-pleasing fare. It acts as a necessary corrective to the patronisingly “uplifting” and generally asexual stories that characters like this are often afforded. It’s a shame, then, that it comes in such an otherwise unremarkable package, one that fades from the mind almost as you’re watching it.
Come As You Are is now showing in select cinemas and is available to stream on VOD platforms.Where to watch online