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Russ (Vince Vaughn) is an uncommon highflying Chicago lawyer: he's a really nice guy. When his wife Kate (Monica Potter) left him eighteen months ago it was not his small son Calvin (Bobby Moat) who took a back seat to his career. Consequently, the highflying law firm fired him. Life begins to look up when the sassy Beth (Joey Lauren Adams) dumps dogfood on the windscreen of his car. But life gets complicated when Kate suddenly reappears out of the blue with ideas of reinstating herself as Mom; the complications multiply when a Dallas law firm offers him a fresh chance at high flying. What will he do with Beth? With Kate? With Calvin? With his life?

"From the opening frames, director John Smith and cinematographer Jean Lepine make screen magic with Matthew McDuffie and Michael Grant Jaffe's adaptation of Jaffe's novel, Dance Real Slow. It is a beautiful movie to look at, without being self conscious, and its leisurely but sure pace makes this intimate story of everyday folk a delight. The gorgeous Vince Vaughn makes the most of his role as everybody's dream dad - flaws and all - while Bobby Moat, as his young son, is little short of miraculous. As the women in their lives, Monica Potter and Joey Lauren Adams bring an authenticity and contrast that's rare in a movie world where looking homogeneously cute and bland in the soapie style is a prerequisite. There are no huge surprises in A Cool, Dry Place, but neither does the movie laboriously telegraph its intentions. The result is an engaging, bittersweet feel-good movie whose images will remain in the mind long after it's over. Definitely one to see and savour."
Diana Simmonds

"The complexities of human relationships are explored sensitively, but not entirely successfully, in this film from Canadian director John N. Smith (best known for The Boys of St Vincents and Dangerous Minds). Although the basic plot line would suggest the film deals with a love triangle, it is much more about a father’s love for his son. To Smith’s credit, A Cool, Dry Place is told with a minimum of stylistic flourish; but loads of honest simplicity. At times, the screenplay appears almost too subtle in its treatment of the four main characters. This is particularly so in the case of Beth, whose role is probably under-written for its significance in the overall story. The subtle approach leaves many questions hanging, which some may find annoying. Why did Kate leave in the first place? Where did she go? Why is she back? - none of these is fully explained, and the lack of answers weakens the characters as their motivations are unclear. Ironically, the subtlety is not sustained throughout, and the denouement, while touching, is rather heavy-handed. The film is helped enormously by strong performances from the leading players. Vince Vaughn is a stand-out, thankfully abandoning the affectations that have plagued some of his other films in recent times. Monica Potter and Joey Lauren Adams are also fine; but the film is sustained by young Bobby Moat who’s wonderful as Calvin. His role is both natural and touching - a real revelation. A Cool, Dry Place is not a complete success; but as a down-to-earth slice of melodrama, you could do a whole lot worse on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
David Edwards

"A Cool, Dry Place is nothing startling but then it's not bad either. There's no great action sequences, nothing overly poignant, no real surprises in the story. But it is a nice simple story, engagingly told, and reasonably well acted. In short, an OK way to spend an afternoon at the movies. And if you're prone to the odd tear, this one should do the trick. Vince Vaughn (Swingers) is a curious actor. He is extremely good looking and does a competent job. Yet, in this role, he isn't able to produce that underlying humour that makes the hot leading man into a superstar. He does have the necessary emotional intensity but there is a sense that he is holding back, unable to be open enough to let his true vulnerability show. In supporting roles Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy) is outstanding as new girlfriend, Beth. Her performance does contain the balance of vulnerability, humour and strength that Vaughn needed for his Russell. Decent support is also provided by Monica Potter (Con Air) and newcomer Bobby Moat. Canadian John N. Smith (Dangerous Minds) has directed the film at a languid pace which suits the emotion of the story well. A good job by scriptwriter, Matthew McDuffie provides us with a well layered piece in its examination of relationships in all their forms. If you're not a country music fan, the soundtrack (Curt Sobel) can be a little hard to take. Otherwise though, this makes for decent entertainment."
Lee Gough

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Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2




CAST: Vince Vaughn, Joey Lauren Adams, Monica Potter, Bobby Moat

DIRECTOR: John N. Smith

PRODUCERs: Katie Jacobs and Gale Mutrux

SCRIPT: Matthew McDuffie


EDITOR: Susan Shipton

MUSIC: Curt Sobel


RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 2, 1999

VIDEO RELEASE: February 2, 2000


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