This is a US remake of a 2013 Belgian comedy, itself based on a BBC documentary about disability rights activist Asta Philpot. Both features transform his true story into a refreshingly non-judgmental road movie in which three young men ditch their families and set off to a brothel in Montreal, hoping to get their “special” needs met.
Come As You Are would have been a worthwhile project even if it had a been a shot-for-shot remake, repackaged for the subtitle-averse US market: the more people who get to see a three-dimensional representation of people with disabilities, the better.
But Erik Linthorst’s script makes improvements, too, including giving juvenile horndog Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer) talent for writing raps (sample lyric: “Half-man, half-machine / Not talking ’bout the chair / But what’s in-between / my legs”), and a delayed reveal of one crucial plot point. You may consider yourself the most pitiable speck in the universe, we’re reminded, but there’s always someone out there who’s got it worse.
While the general mood is uplifting, “the right to sex” is an unavoidably fraught topic.
Happily, any incel-shading-into-misogynist arguments are mostly quashed by the trio’s no-nonsense van driver, Sam (Gabourey Sidibe). She turns up just in time to instil some respect for women, while the dignity of sex workers is also affirmed, albeit only in passing, by Scotty’s mother, Liz (Janeane Garofalo).
All the performances confidently handle the material’s sometimes breakneck tonal shifts, yet still, you couldn’t call Come As You Are perfectly cast, exactly: none of the three main actors has disabilities in real life. The film-makers have explained this as a consequence of their limited time and resources, but it feels like a missed opportunity all the same.
• Come As You Are is available on digital platforms from 17 July.