Filmmakers in attendance.
Hot off its world premiere at SXSW, COME AS YOU ARE swaps out overgrown (white) frat boys for (mostly) persons-of-color with special needs as they embark on an often hilarious, life-altering road trip in this intersectional THE HANGOVER by LAAPFF veteran Richard Wong (COLMA: THE MUSICAL, OPTION 3, YES, WE’RE OPEN).
Hayden Szeto (EDGE OF SEVENTEEN) stars as the wheelchair-bound Matt. Handsome but aloof, Matt was initially met with outright hostility from Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), a loud, bitter paraplegic who’s a fixture at the physical therapy center they both frequent. But soon Matt, along with Mo (Ravi Patel), a blind clinic worker, are roped into Scotty’s ill-conceived scheme to lose their virginity. As these misfits make their way north, to a Montreal brothel dedicated to servicing the disabled, they revel in their newfound independence by squabbling, bonding, and attempting to evade capture by their over-protective parents.
Inspired by a true story that also spawned the 2011 Belgian comedy HASTA LA VISTA, COME AS YOU ARE is a showcase for some terrific acting talent. While Rosenmeyer steals the show as a potty-mouthed rapper with a heart of gold, the film is anchored by Szeto’s moving, understated performance as as an athlete struck down in his prime. And Patel’s slow-burning romance with no-nonsense driver Sam (Gabourey Sidibe, from PRECIOUS) is deftly handled. Amid the ribald humor, director Richard Wong never loses sight of what makes his special needs characters tick, delivering a crowd-pleasing, generously spirited movie that’s also a step forward for diverse representation. —Ryan Wu
Director, Director of Photography, Editor: Richard Wong
Producer: Grant Rosenmeyer, Barrett Stuart, Jacqueline”Jj” Ingram
Writer: Erik Linthorst
Exec. Producer: Franklin Leonard, Kelly Waller, Ted Reilly
Composer: Jeremy Turner
Production Designer: Amy Frazzini