Dallas 362

         Scott Caan has already proven to be a sturdy and reliable young
 character actor in films like
VARSITY BLUES, AMERICAN OUTLAWS
 and the remake of OCEAN’S ELEVEN and its sequel OCEAN’S TWELVE.
 He also has worked extensively in the Los Angeles theater scene as
 playwright and director. Now he makes the jump to the big screen as
 writer and director of an auspicious debut,
DALLAS 362.

         Caan has cast himself in the pivotal role of Dallas, the best pal
 of Rusty (Shawn Hatosy). The twenty-something buddies share an
 apartment together and spend their nights drinking and smoking,
 hitting on women, and getting into more than the occasional bar
 fight. Oftentimes, they are bailed out by Rusty’s mom Mary (Kelly
 Lynch). While she is clearly unhappy with her son’s choice of lifestyle,
 she prefers it over his following his dream of becoming a rodeo
 cowboy like his late father. Determined to aid her son, she turns
 to her latest beau Bob (Jeff Goldblum) who happens to be a
 psychologist.

         The relationship between Dallas and Rusty is the heart of the
 film, with Rusty’s determination to change his life causing a riff
 between them. Encouraged by his sessions with Bob, Rusty begins
 to make difficult decisions about the direction of his life. Whatever
 he chooses, he is aware that he will lose a connection with one of
 the two most important people in his life: his mother or Dallas.

         Meanwhile, Dallas has hit on a scheme to rob the gangster
 for whom he works and rather than subject his best bud to the
 scheme, he enters into an agreement with Christian (Val Lauren),
 knowing that Christian will want to cooperate for revenge’s sake.
 When another job arises – this one proposed by a talkative one-night
 stand (Isla Fisher) – Dallas jumps at the chance to earn some quick
 cash. While the audience might be able to predict the eventual
 outcome, Caan does manage to offer a couple of surprises along
 the way.

         As a writer and director, Caan seems to be attempting too
 much. By grafting a coming of age story onto a caper movie, he
 creates what are essentially two separate features, each with a
 different tone that don’t quite mesh together. However, he shows a
 surprising agility with the older actors (Lynch and Goldblum are both
 terrific) but fails when it comes to the annoying Christian and his
 nagging wife (Selma Blair), who come off as caricatures rather than
 characters.

         Instead of turning
DALLAS 362 into a vanity production,
 Caan shows his generosity by casting Shawn Hatosy in what is
 essentially the leading role. I’ve been following the career of this
 remarkably fine actor for years, since I first saw him in the Farrelly
 brothers’
OUTSIDE PROVIDENCE. He’s done yeoman work as
 Brendan Behan in
BORSTAL BOY and as a homophobic grunt in
 the underrated
SOLDIER’S GIRL. Hatosy recently earned kudos for
 starring as John McCain in the TV biopic
FAITH OF OUR FATHERS,
 and in
DALLAS 362 he gets to once again display his versatility.
 He and Caan have a terrific chemistry, and Hatosy’s scenes with
 Goldblum are nothing short of remarkable.

         While
DALLAS 362 does have its faults, it also displays
 promise for Caan as a filmmaker. He has another screenplay in
 development and I’ll look forward to seeing that movie, because
 he’s obviously talented and clearly one to watch.


     Rating:                      C+
     MPAA rating:              R for language, sexual situations, drug use
     Running time:            100 mins.
©  2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.