'Cas & Dylan': Film Review

Even at 90 minutes, this trip seems interminable

Richard Dreyfuss and 'Orphan Black's' Tatiana Maslany play mismatched travelers on this road trip comedy directed by Jason Priestley.

Richard Dreyfuss has made a late career specialty of playing endearingly cranky curmudgeons, and Tatiana Maslany displays virtuosic acting talent in her multiple clone roles in the hit sci-fi television series Orphan Black. But these fine performers take a wrong turn in Cas & Dylan, Jason Priestley's directorial debut, which recycles the tired formula of mismatched travelers on a road trip. Planes, Trains and Automobiles it ain't.

Dreyfuss plays 61-year-old Dr. Cas Pepper — cue the inevitable Dr. Pepper jokes — who discovers that he has an inoperable brain tumor. Maslany plays 22-year-old Dylan, a free-spirited (naturally), aspiring writer whom Pepper gives a brief ride after depositing the corpse of his recently deceased dog in the back of his car for his journey from Winnipeg to Vancouver.

Dropping her off at her boyfriend Bobby's (Christopher Cordell) house, he discovers that she's left her notebook behind. But when he goes back to return it, he winds up accidentally running Bobby down after he chases her out of the house while waving a gun.

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Despite the fact that it was clearly an accident and the most afoul he's probably ever run of the law is receiving a parking ticket, Cas impulsively heeds Dylan's advice that they go on the lam. It turns out that she's also eager to hitch a ride to Vancouver to meet with a publisher supposedly interested in her work.

Predictable tensions ensue, with Dylan deriding the bluegrass music that he plays in the car and Cas complaining about, well, everything. In one particularly contrived moment in Jessie Gabe's screenplay full of them, Dylan drugs Cas' coffee, resulting in the embarrassing spectacle of Dreyfuss wearing a flowing blond wig and howling like a dog.

Discovering Cas' half-hearted attempt at writing a suicide note — "I prefer the phrase 'legacy note,'" he informs her — Dylan offers to lend her writing skills to help him pen a proper missive devoid of cliches. Considering that she's a walking cliche herself, it seems a foolish proposition.

Priestley's by-the-numbers direction fails to enliven the proceedings, although the gorgeous Canadian Rockies scenery at least provides some visual diversion.

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By now, Dreyfuss can do this sort of grumpy old man routine in his sleep, and his slow burn reactions and deadpan delivery enliven such moments as when Cas (seemingly channeling the actor's character in The Goodbye Girl), lays down the rules for the trip, including the principal one, "No talking." Sadly for viewers, it goes unheeded by the chatterbox Dylan.

Despite everything, the film features some touching moments in its final act, thankfully avoiding the obvious choice of having Dylan infuse her suicidal traveling companion with a newfound will to live. But by then, it's too little, too late.

Production company: Montefiore Films
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss, Tatiana Maslany, Christopher Cordell, Corinne Conley, Eric Peterson, Aaron Poole
Director: Jason Priestley

Screenwriter: Jessie Gabe
Producer: Mark Montefiore
Executive producers: Emily Alden, Marina Cordoni, Steven DeNure, Ira Levy, Peter Williamson
Director of photography: Gerald Packer
Production designer: Peter Mihaichuk
Editor: Bridget Durnford
Costume designer: Shannon Vaillancourt
Composer: Michael Brook
Casting: Stephanie Gorin, Nancy Nayor

Not rated, 90 minutes