A Cool, Dry Place

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A Cool, Dry Place

Sportswriter Michael Grant Jaffe's novel Dance Real Slow makes for a solid, if not especially remarkable, drama about fatherhood, relationships, and settling down in A Cool, Dry Place, a barely released adaptation by director John N. Smith (Dangerous Minds). Vince Vaughn stars as a one-time high-powered attorney who, as the film opens, has been reduced to pursuing frivolous lawsuits in a small Edward Hopper-esque Midwestern farm town, his wife (Monica Potter) having left him and made him solely responsible for their toddler son (Bobby Moat). Shortly after Vaughn strikes up a romance with frisky veterinarian's assistant Joey Lauren Adams, however, Potter returns, forcing Vaughn to reevaluate his situation. Vaughn plays his quiet role remarkably well, achieving a believable paternal chemistry with Moat, who could teach most child actors a thing or two. Potter, however, seems miscast, unable to suggest the flakiness necessary for her character to work, and the film itself feels awfully overdetermined. Not that an unhappy ending would have made things better, but it's pretty much impossible to imagine a movie made today, as opposed to two decades ago, in which a father spends the first two thirds of a movie bonding with his son, only to give him up in the finale. Still, while often unextraordinary, A Cool, Dry Place is never less than worthwhile. Smith and his ensemble seem to get the small details of parenthood right, and Vaughn consistently provides a reason to tune in, even if the film itself, though smarter and more fully realized than a hundred Stepmoms, doesn't always command attention.