Hollywood is never short of raunchy sex comedies, but one that features a premise about disabled individuals is a rarity. Richard Wong’s Come As You Are, released on February 14, is an imperfect yet uplifting dramedy that follows three men with disabilities as they embark on a road trip from Colorado to Montreal in order to lose their virginities at a brothel. Based on the 2011 Belgian import, Hasta la Vista, the film defies preconceived notions about disabled individuals and their sexual desires while managing to avoid turning the plot into a pity party.
Grant Rosenmeyer stars as Scotty, a horny 24-year-old quadriplegic, who discovers La Chateau Paradis, a facility in Montreal founded by a disabled man. The facility specializes in providing sexual services for those with special needs. Intrigued, Scotty befriends Matt (Hayden Szeto), a former jock who suffers from a degenerative disease that leaves him wheelchair bound, to pool money to rent a van and hire a driver for the trip.
In addition to Matt, Scotty also invites Mo (Ravi Patel), a legally blind employee that works at Scotty’s rehab facility on the trip. The three of them hire Sam (Gabourey Sidibe), a nurse who has struggles of her own, to be their driver/assistant but doesn’t tell her what the trip is about. The four of them get into mischief—including a nasty encounter with a police officer who compares them to his relative with Down syndrome—on the way to the facility.
Wong and screenwriter Erik Linthorst do a brilliant job of tackling sensitive topics without being overly sentimental. Comedic bits—which involve bickering, reckless driving, and a bar fight—are balanced out with moments of emotional tenderness. It would have been easy for Wong and Linthorst to use disability as comedic relief, but they touch on how disability has affected each of the individuals differently. Sex is only an aid in their quest for self-discovery.
However, Come As You Are is not without its flaws. Most notably, the casting was disappointing. All three actors in the film are able-bodied in real life, further exacerbating the lack of inclusion for disabled actors in Hollywood. According to a report by The Huffington Post in 2019, characters with disabilities are often portrayed by actors who do not have them. Only 4.9 per cent of actors with disabilities are hired in television and film. The lack of opportunities for actors with disabilities mean that their talents and experiences are overlooked which shouldn’t be the case in films like Come As You Are.
Despite the casting disappointment, the film does make strides with its intersectional viewpoint and racial dynamics. Wong doesn’t shy away from messages of acceptance and staying true to oneself. In that sense, Come As You Are is aptly titled and worthy of a watch.