What’s not to love about a movie that has guys with disabilities heading to a brothel?
By Shane Crowe and Tony Jackson
“Come As You Are” is a coming-of-age movie about three men with disabilities taking a road trip to a brothel, Le Château Paradise, in Canada. Each is seeking their first sexual experience.
Despite the film being a remake of a 2011 Belgian movie of the same title, it feels like a fresh take on the Road-Trip-to-Sexual-Encounter sub-genre of comedy. The film highlights the unique challenges people with disabilities face regarding sexuality with characters that are mostly well-written, fun to watch and have a lot of heart.
These elements make “Come As You Are” a stark contrast and breath of fresh air compared to any genre-based analogs like “Sex Drive” or “Eurotrip.”
The 2019 comedy is based on a true story by Asta Philpot. It stars Grant Rosenmeyer, Hayden Szeto, Ravi Patel, and Oscar-nominated Gibourey Sidibe.
Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), uses a wheelchair and is a snarky, crude, smartass. As the overly-anxious and atypical part of the group, Mo (Ravi Patel) is visually-impaired. Formerly an aspiring boxer, Matt (Hayden Szeto) is the group’s planner and one who acquired his disability later in life. Finally, we have Sam (Gibourey Sidibe), who is hired as the driver for the group and binds everyone together.
The film tackles many all-too-real situations for people with disabilities. All three live at home. All three have never had a sexual experience. All three desire freedom from their loving, yet overprotective families.
Overall, “Come As You Are” is funny, engaging, and entertaining while highlighting the social stigma surrounding disability and sex.
However (you knew this was coming), there was one glaring issue with the film: none of the three actors portraying people with disabilities have a disability. There are only two characters with disabilities in the movie with a real-life disability: Sarah (Delaney Feener), a receptionist where Mo works, and Scotty receives physical therapy, and Philpot, the film’s writer, who makes a cameo as the owner of the brothel.
The film is a small example of a looming issue in Hollywood, and the entertainment industry at-large. Although disabled characters don’t need to be exclusively played by actors with disabilities, those actors need to be given a fair opportunity for roles like these.
While the actors all did a commendable job, only people with disabilities can bring the nuance of disability into the roles. A person with a disability watching this film would say the same thing they’ve repeated nearly every time watching a disabled character, “That person isn’t really disabled.”
Representation matters. Until more actors with disabilities are cast in roles, characters with disabilities portrayed by non-disabled actors will always be missing the authenticity. That will keep the escapism of entertainment from ever crossing into the realm of believable.
Shane Crowe | Writer
Shane Crowe is a senior at Arizona State University where he double majors in journalism and digital culture. Shane was born in Phoenix, Arizona and enjoys camping, making music and pursuing creative projects with his friends. He hopes to one day stick to a regular exercise schedule.
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Tony Jackson | Writer
Tony Jackson is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He started playing power soccer in 2009 and has no plans to stop anytime soon. In addition to being an athlete, he puts his journalism skills to use as a broadcaster of power soccer tournaments around the world. He currently works at the Ability360 Sports & Fitness Center, and also coaches and plays for Ability360 FC.
Read more by Tony Jackson.