Romantic comedies make most men put their body in the fetal position and pray that the bad people will make it stop until they are shown the newest incantation of a Vin Diesel action flic. This just in, Vin Diesel doesn’t really make action films anymore. Crap, how about Mel Gibson, no? Hey, Sly Stallone still does action movies. Yeah, but we are also pretending he’s still relevant. Anyhow, most people have negative connotations about romantic comedies. That way too much syrupy dialog mixed in with corny humor about two people on the opposite side of the tracks establishing that common ground and coming together. Dedication, at the core is a story of a children’s writer finding love with his new illustrator. However, getting there is one strange animal indeed.
Henry Roth (played by Billy Crudup) is a budding children’s storybook author. His newest idea involves Marty the Beaver and receives great press and promise of future books in publication. His illustrator is Rudy Holt (played by Tom Wilkinson). Rudy is the “father” of the group as he often pitches the ideas and serves as a mentor over Henry. However, one day Rudy dies (we guess as a result of too much good deli lunch meat), and the publishing house is left with trying to find a suitable replacement. The problem is that Henry is very much the definition of an obsessive compulsive and any other mental disorder you can think of. He can’t keep a relationship, he refuses to travel in a car, and he sleeps with a pile of heavy books on his chest.
All of this puts publisher, Arthur Planck (played by Bob Balaban) in quite the pickle of a situation. After much consideration, he decides to go with the quirky Lucy Reilly (played by Mandy Moore), a young illustrator who has yet to get her break. Arthur even offers Lucy some incentive money to get Henry and his creative roots going. Lucy is not without her problems. She lives in an apartment that is controlled by her mother; Carol (played by Dianne Wiest) who has threatened to throw her out on more than one occasion. After a few meetings between Henry and Lucy, they retire to Arthur’s villa at the beach to sort out the upcoming book. There, something magical happens between the two and the rest of the movie is spent examining the fragile yet special relationship with Henry and Lucy.
*Tear*. Or maybe not. The whole premise of Henry and Lucy who get into this romantic love story has a good premise. The backdrop of the author and his illustrator is sweet, nice and innocent. The problem is that it gets lost in the neurosis of Henry’s psyche. He isn’t just sprouting a complete dictionary of disorders; he’s also a complete a-hole to everybody around him. This is with the exception of Rudy whether he’s in live form or coming back in what could be best described as visions. Mandy Moore’s character of Lucy is loveable enough and we do grow to like her as her charm shows through. However, in a film such as this we should want Henry and Lucy to get together and have a sweet and loving romance. Personally, at the end I could care less if Henry and Lucy end up getting in a vehicle and driving head long into a beaver dam. (That does not happen by the way, but would have been some sweet irony if it did.)
The film despite getting caught in its own mental disorder does have strong performances. From Billy Crudup to Mandy Moore to the supporting characters, each of them excels in their role. The film is for the most part entertaining. The supporting characters actually provide the strongest depth to the story with Tom Wilkinson and Dianne Wiest doing a standout job. I particularly liked the idea of Rudy Holt coming back in the story and just at the right times to help out Henry figure out what to do. It’s hard to explain, but they should have scaled how eccentric each character was. Henry is going to stand out regardless, but the remaining characters while having problems of their own shouldn’t have been in a disorder contest to take away from his character. The remaining characters for the most part should have been played fairly straight and it would have made for a more heartwarming picture.
The video is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. A nice image and the characters are pleasing to the eye in this print. The locale is particularly nice once it shifts to the beach front and good shots throughout make this a pleasure to watch on the video front. Color is well presented and it is what you expect out of a modern movie.
Dolby Digital 5.1 is provided for both English and French speakers. The dialog is easy to hear even if the surrounds are barely used at all. The major problem here is actually the background music. Deerhoof provides the background track. They are meant to be on the cutting edge. The problem is they come off like fingernails on a chalkboard. Very painful. Actually did take away from the film and made me wonder if this film would be better with a silent background music option. Subtitles are provided in English, French and Spanish.
- Automatic Trailers:Sex & The City – The Movie, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, I’m Not There, Grace is Gone, & The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
There will certainly be two fields of thought when it comes to this movie. Some will love the quirky style of Henry and will enjoy the film and the two finally coming together in harmony. Some will absolutely loathe that they go too far with the quirky and will groan at the ending more than that Rueben sandwich they enjoyed for lunch that day. I tend to find myself almost in the middle with a lean to the latter. The performances while strong were almost alienated by how everybody had to be six shades of f’ed up. The dvd was what you would find from most movies, well presented video and okay audio with nothing that’s going to work up your amp too much. The disc is devoid of any extras which almost make it seem like the studio doesn’t know what to do with the film either. If you are a fan of Billy Crudup or Mandy Moore, I can certainly give a recommendation to see the film. However, for most you won’t find much here besides a very average romantic comedy.
- DvdVerdict.com: “Nevertheless, knowing Moore from her previous films, she was the one I was praying for to give this film some much needed juice, though she couldn’t do it, unfortunately.”