Is it possible to use The Doors’ “The End” without it recalling Apocalypse Now? Even if it’s just the opening snippet.
No, it’s not. Especially not when you do it twice like Theroux does in Dedication.
But Theroux harkening back to great films (or, hey, if he even harkened back to a mediocre one) would be such a vast improvement over what he does, which is hard to describe. It’s kind of like an insincere rip-off of Darren Aronofsky (Theroux doesn’t fully commit to the high contrast shots or the jump cuts, only using them for transitions), with a terrible script and a lot better actors than the film deserves. Tom Wilkinson is, admittedly, hacking it out here, but he’s very good at hacking it out. Bob Balaban, essentially playing an R-rated version of his “Seinfeld” character, is fine.
As for Mandy Moore, she’s one of the worst actresses I’ve ever had the displeasure of seeing perform. She’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen in a film given a theatrical release (since the advent of direct-to-video). Indescribable.
And Billy Crudup, long the best actor not working? Well, that title’s certainly no longer applicable. It’s not so much his fault–it’s the awful script. Crudup’s character is probably an undiagnosed, certainly unmedicated schizophrenic who the viewer is supposed to find hilarious at some times and tragic at others–when all the guy really needs is some therapy and a lot of meds.
Theroux has obviously watched a bunch of movies preparing for his directorial debut but he must have watched bad ones (obviously, given the Aronofsky references). His framing is all slightly off, which I think is supposed to make Dedication look “cool,” but instead it looks incompetent.
I’d been looking forward to Dedication–Crudup in a lead, the story kind of sounded like George Sanders in Rebecca, only modernized–but it’s utter crap. Oddly though, given how bad Crudup’s movies of the last six or seven years have been… seeing him in such an excremental waste of time is unsurprising.
Directed by Justin Theroux; written by David Bromberg; director of photography, Stephen Kazmierski; edited by Andy Keir; music by Ed Shearmur; production designer, Teresa Mastropierro; produced by Celine Rattray, Daniela Taplin Lundberg and Galt Niederhoffer; released by the Weinstein Company.
Starring Billy Crudup (Henry Roth), Mandy Moore (Lucy Riley), Tom Wilkinson (Rudy Holt), Martin Freeman (Jeremy), Bob Balaban (Mr. Planck), Dianne Wiest (Carol), Christine Taylor (Allison), Amy Sedaris (Sue) and Bobby Cannavale (Don).