Thespian Theroux makes a directorial debut that's stylish but ultimately familiar

Dedication

on August 24, 2007 by Tim Cogshell
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Misanthropic children's book author Henry Roth (Billy Crudup) loses both his illustrating collaborator and his only friend when Rudy (Tom Wilkinson) dies of a brain tumor. But fret not, dear viewer: Rudy (and thus the always welcome Wilkinson) is a ghost or memory or subconscious entity who shows up often to ruminate over Henry's life. With the deadline for a very important (read: lucrative) children's book looming, Henry's publisher Mr. Planck (Bob Balaban) insists upon its completion, so he assigns a lovely illustrator called Lucy (Mandy Moore) to work with the socially repellent author, much to his chagrin.

Henry is an ass of the deliberate sort whose many quirks don't add up to anything actually pathological—save a bad, perhaps even brutal childhood, which he apparently survived to become a wealthy children's book author who disabuses children of childish notions such as the existence of Santa. He falls in love with Lucy, of course, and must overcome his myriad glitches to win her away from a wanker English professor (Martin Freeman) who has returned to reclaim Lucy's affection. There are other issues, but they are all at least as quirky and rote as everything mentioned thus far.

Debuting director Justin Theroux is a noted actor recognizable from a number of film and television projects from David Lynch's Mulholland Drive to Sex and the City to Zoolander to Six Feet Under . Prior to becoming an actor, Theroux was a noted designer, and it's that skill that he brings to bear most effectively in Dedication . There are a number of interesting design and stylistic motifs here, but they do not mask the fact that underlying each one of them, and all the quirks and tics Crudup can muster, Dedication still pretty much an ordinary boy-gets-girl movie, and not a particularly interesting one.
Distributor: Weinstein
Cast: Billy Crudup, Mandy Moore, Tom Wilkinson, Diane Wiest and Bob Balaban
Director: Justin Theroux
Screenwriters: David Bromberg
Producers: Celine Rattray, Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Galt Niederhoffer
Genre: Romantic drama
Rating: R for language and some content
Running time: 93 min.
Release date: August 24, 2007 NY/LA
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