The Dilemma is the most frustrating romantic comedy I’ve ever had to sit through. It’s a movie that is so utterly contemptible that you shouldn’t ever have to face the dilemma of seeing it or not. The characters are mean and exasperating. The plot is absurd on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin. In short this is already atop the Worst Of list for 2011.
Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are best friends. They do everything together. They even work together, and right now they’re working on a job for General Motors that could determine whether they make it or have to file bankruptcy. Ronny is matched up with Beth (Jennifer Connelly). Beth’s friend, Geneva (Winona Ryder), is married to Nick. They all love each other. Ronny announces that Geneva and Nick are his “hero couple.” Everything seems to be going swimmingly. That is until Ronny accidentally spots Geneva making out with someone who definitely isn’t Nick. This is where “the dilemma” comes in. Does Ronny tell Nick about his wife and risk blowing this job with General Motors they’ve worked so desperately for? Or does he keep the secret from Nick for a now in order to not distract him from his very important work?
Best friends everywhere would tell their friend. Right? There would be no wondering this or that, if you’re someone’s best friend you’d tell them exactly what you saw the first chance you got. That’s what best friends do. If you waver one moment, and consider keeping it a secret, well then you should probably reconsider calling that person your best friend.
The Dilemma drags on for 112 minutes as Ronny does everything from try to catch Nick’s wife in the act of cheating to confronting her boyfriend and getting in a brawl with him. It just so happens that Ronny’s backstory involves him being a habitual gambler, and that everything he ends up doing in secret looks to everyone else like he’s gambling again. This is one of those movies that relies on the sole fact that people just won’t listen to other people when they have something important to say. This becomes increasingly frustrating as Ronny tries to talk to Nick, but Nick blows him off only to hate Ronny in the end for not telling him sooner. How was he supposed to say something? You were never listening.
Vince Vaughn does his very best Vince Vaughn impression and chews up the screen with bloated rant after bloated rant. His shtick is wearing very old, and he does the exact same thing here that he’s done in dozens of movies before.
Petty misunderstandings rule romantic comedies. Movies like this are built on convenient mix-ups that have people thinking oppositely than they should. In real-life we’d find ourselves handling this situation much more gracefully and, well, reasonably. Reason is not found in The Dilemma. Instead common sense has been replaced with lunacy.
Then we gander at who directed this awful movie, and it’s hard to take in. Ron Howard? Really? The same guy who directed Apollo 13 directed, this? It’s a travesty on all fronts. The Dilemma is an ugly, confused movie that doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy, a drama, or a love story. It’s full to the brim with instances that aren’t meant to be funny, but because the audience wants to laugh these moments garner a few awkward guffaws from the crowd no doubt thinking “Am I supposed to be laughing at this part or is it a serious moment?” Just stay away from The Dilemma it’s an agonizing movie-going experience.
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