Billy Crudup stars as a cynical and nasty children book's author who is forced to improve his manners when he falls in love with his new artist, who looks suspiciously like Mandy Moore, in Dedication, a romantic comedy-drama that isn't very romantic, funny or dramatic.
Dedication follows Crudup, who has only ever thought about himself in all avenues of life. At a book signing, he tells a child that Santa Claus doesn't exist, yet he doesn't realize his own horrible existence. Only his friend and mentor, played by Tom Wilkinson, sees how the man is descending into a life of loneliness and selfishness. It isn't until his friend dies that Crudup begins to give credence to the critical analysis. When a new artist is brought on to finish their book, he slowly begins to realize that there are other people in the world worth loving. But it isn't easy to change overnight, and his selfishness may kill his last chance at happiness.
Dedication tries to be funny by making Crudup about as despicable as possible, but the result is more often sad than anything else. The movie tries to be dramatic by giving Crudup something to cry about, but there's not much to the story other than a death and some bad dreams where Wilkinson returns as a ghost. The film also attempts to be romantic, and it carries itself like a typical romantic film (girl and guy meet, they don't get along, they fall in love, issues tear them apart, and mystery ensues as to whether they will get back together before the ending credits), but the romantic aspect is so undeveloped and frustrating that it's impossible to enjoy. Women looking for a feel-good romantic film should look elsewhere.
The movie does have its moments, including a scene in a restaurant where Crudup analyzes a waitress' life that's quite good. Crudup himself delivers a pretty good performance; it's a shame that this actor continues to star in films that are rather forgettable.
Dedication lacks any real meaning or purpose, and isn't very entertaining. Crudup is okay, but the rest of the movie fails to deliver. The romantic angle is particularly weak, as the chemistry between the two actors is not there, and their story never establishes that these two people are actually ever in love. There's a reason why you probably haven't heard of Dedication, and there's no reason why you should remember it moving forward.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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