I am a fan of Ron Howard. He has made some of the best movies in the past three decades – but he has also made some of the worst. To every three bad movies, Howard makes one spectacular one. Most filmmakers never make a truly remarkable film, so considering Howard has made so many good ones, I can forgive him for the bad ones – like The Dilemma.
Ronny (Vince Vaughn, The Wedding Crashers) and Nick (Kevin James, Paul Blart: Mall Cop) have been best friends since college. They have been through everything together – from the creation of their own small business and Nick’s marriage to Geneva (Winona Ryder, Black Swan), to every one of Ronny’s failed shallow relationships and bad business.
Just when things are starting to get great for everyone – they land a huge business deal and Ronny is planning to propose to his perfect girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind) – Ronny catches Geneva making-out with a young punk (Channing Tatum, Dear John). The dilemma that he is faced with is whether or not he should tell Nick, whether he should confront Geneva on his own or whether he should just let sleeping dogs lie. Of course, as Ronny tries to fix everything on his own, his maniacal actions begin to erode everything in his own life – their friendship, their business and his own relationship with Beth.
The Dilemma should have been titled Rants – with Vince Vaughn and Other Unfunny People. The majority of the dialogue in The Dilemma consists of Vaughn spouting out long-winded, stretched-thin rants. If the rants were even funny, like those in The Wedding Crashers, it would be one thing – but they are not. Unfunny-man Kevin James even takes a shot at ranting and fails miserably.
Now don’t get me wrong here – there is some good comedy in The Dilemma. The only problem is that they beat it like a dead horse. For example, Queen Latifah (known for doing nothing of note) plays a business executive that Ronny and Nick have to work with for their new business deal. When we first meet her, she unexpectedly says some of the most wildly inappropriate things. Catching you off-guard, these lines are hilarious. But every time she pops up in movie she literally says the exact same lines. This happens three or four times. Any laughs that The Dilemma honestly earns are quickly bastardized by sloppy repetition.
While The Dilemma is being marketed as another “bro-mantic comedy” – like I Love You, Man – it truly is the Vince Vaughn show. Winona Ryder gets more screen-time than Kevin James – and though she doesn’t get billing, she is actually a whole lot of evil fun to watch on screen. Jennifer Connelly, who also doesn’t get billing, makes you fall in love with her charm, but she is not on screen nearly as much as she should be. The real show-stealer – who also does not get billing – that I am embarrassed to admit that I enjoyed was Channing Tatum. I haven’t liked him in a single role to date, but I upper-case LOVED him in The Dilemma. When Channing Tatum is the best thing your movie has going for it, you have a big problem.
Since when did watching a marriage fall apart become a good topic for a comedy? The Dilemma suffers the same tonal issues as Country Strong – the seriousness of the material does not match the lightheartedness of the genre.
If you are considering The Dilemma for this weekend’s romantic comedy viewing, don’t. It bears the curse of bad January flicks. You are better off seeing How Do You Know or staying at home and revisiting an old favorite. The Dilemma should not be an option.
Photo credit: Universal Studios