Film Review – The Dilemma

Vince Vaughn finds himself at a crossroads in the new film The Dilemma, directed by Ron Howard. He plays a recovered gambling addict who is trying to work up the courage to propose to his fiancĂ©e (played by Jennifer Connelly, who seems slightly stiff in this role). He and his business partner and best friend, played with good-humored eartnessness by Kevin James, negotiate a new contract with a major car manufacturer to create an electric engine with muscle car aesthetics. By accident he discovers that his partner’s wife (Winona Ryder) is having an affair with a muscly younger man (Channing Tatum, giving a slightly Mark Wahlbergian performance). The Dilemma of the title is whether Vaughn’s character should tell his friend or not. Complications and hilarity theoretically ensue.

The execution of this film feels loose and limp. Everyone in the cast has been in good movies before, and you feel that they are all better than the material. The script by Allan Loeb feels underwritten. It’s good that sometimes the characters treat each other like adults, but there is little in the way of truly memorable dialogue, and some scenes feel overlong.

Ron Howard has had a distinguished career in directing. Apollo 13 and Frost/Nixon are his best films, but even some of his early work is a lot of fun, such as Night Shift and Splash. Even if you dig the overrated A Beautiful Mind, or spent a lot of your time on the Robert Langdon movies (The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons), they were at least watchable movies. This time out, though, it feels a bit like phoning it in. He keeps the whole affair from becoming too maudlin, but too much of the story with the car industry feels like a big advertisement for Dodge automobiles. Queen Latifah scores some laughs as an auto executive who champions our heroes’ cause, but it’s a small bit of fun in what looks like giant product placement.

Also, there seems to be an honestly intelligent adult drama about relationships buried underneath the contrivances of the plot. It’s almost like someone started with a look at honesty and friendship amongst adults, but the studio wanted a sitcom like-premise slapped on so they could sell it easily. Hence, we end up with The Dilemma of the title.

Basically, the whole movie could have used a rewrite and some editing. The performers are pleasant enough, so that if six months from now you find yourself laying on the couch, the remote control out of reach, and you’ve eaten too many Nacho Cheese Doritos to get up, and this movie comes on, you can pass the time easily enough. But there’s no real need to go shell out big money at the theater to see this.

Rating: C+

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I'm a family man who got his Drama degree back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth and now works at a desk. I love movies of all kinds, and I am still working my way through the list of 1001 movies you must see before you die.

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