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NBFF 2014 Review: ‘Cas & Dylan’

cas and dylanHere’s another Newport Beach Film Fest review focused on just one feature that I caught on Monday morning. Cas & Dylan is a Canadian-produced road trip comedy, focused on an odd couple that needs to be enjoyed, if one wants to enjoy this film as a whole. It is a bit cutesy in the way it presents a scenario that can be summed up by saying, “She’s a [blank] and he’s a [blank], but together, they’ll become best friends ready to do whatever.” Fortunately, Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany make for a good pairing and the film gets enough mileage out of its comedy and drama to make this good-looking film a good watch as well.

Dreyfuss stars as Dr. Cas Pepper (Yes: Dr. Pepper), an elderly man who has received news most likely concerning his health. With a new goal, as far as how to live out the rest of his life, Cas attempts to begin a long road trip across Canada, only to end up with a young woman riding shotgun. This woman is Dylan (Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany), a free spirit and aspiring writer, who first met Cas in the hospital, while taking notes in an effort to find inspiration for writing. The stage is eventually set to put these two together on the road and while Cas is a much different person than Dylan, the two eventually find themselves on common ground, as Dylan is just too upbeat to want to leave this older man whom she finds interesting.

cas and dylan nbff whysoblu

So the Cas character is dying. I do not need to go into why, but I also do not think I am spoiling that simple fact, as the movie rests on his journey to basically find a peaceful place where he can see himself to the end, on his own terms. It is important to note this, because the film is ostensibly a comedy about this mismatched pairing. Obviously death is a serious topic, but the film plays things light enough for the most part, in an effort to get you onboard with the main relationship. By having these two establish who they are and what makes them tick, Cas & Dylan is able to get a lot of mileage out of the humor that comes from keeping them together.

As this is not a film about racing to find miracle cures, it does help that the film manages its dramatic side quite well. I suppose there could be some accusations of the film being a bit manipulative in the way it brings up Cas’ illness and in the way the film eventually finds its conclusion, but I feel that is something someone has to basically buy into, knowing what kind of film this is. Cas & Dylan is not exactly anything fresh in the realm of odd couple road trip movies, but I did find it handled well enough to earn its moments of sentiment that should be expected, given the plotting of the film.

Beyond a few other speaking roles, this film really is a 2-person show, as it is all about Dreyfuss and Maslany and fortunately they are both very good in this film. Maslany provides an easy likability to her character, who is one of those impossibly flighty and attractive women that are also smart, creative, and rare to actually find in the world. It is not as complex as what she is currently pulling off on television, but it makes a good case for her being able to pull off charming when she needs to. Dreyfuss is about as good as he’s been in a long time, given that he, more or less, works only when he really feels like it. In this film, he has a way of making his general fussiness appropriate for the film, while also selling the joy he eventually finds in companionship, making things tougher, once the film gets into its final act.

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Cas & Dylan unfortunately does not quite make the best use of its time throughout, as the pacing feels pretty off as it moves forward. The opening is solid and the end is effectively emotional, but the middle really sags in a way that has one really depending on the cast to make things more enjoyable within the realm of this road trip story. The film is the directorial debut of former 90210 star Jason Priestley and while he gets fine performances out of his cast and does a good job of showing off Canadian scenery, he does not quite nail putting together a consistently entertaining feature. It is a bit of a shame, as the film is fine in concept and is humorous at times, but a cute story like this would benefit from a bit more focus.

Still, Cas & Dylan does have its charms. It is done well enough for me to ultimately recommend, as I enjoyed this pairing and found it to work as both a cute comedy and a fine emotional journey for Dreyfuss. It has issues with getting to its destination in a bit of a loosely constructed manner, but at least it does a fine job of showing off Canada, while we follow along with this journey. Sometimes that is just enough.

Click on the poster to visit the Newport Beach Film Festival website,
and be sure to check back to Why So Blu throughout the week
for more of my coverage of the festival!

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Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com. Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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