Movie Review: The Dilemma (2011)
Vince Vaughn and Kevin James seem like a perfect duo for a straightforward comedy heavy on slapstick and crazed antics. It’s surprising then that The Dilemma masks much of its laugh-out-loud funniness with dark humor, subtle jests and highly serious drama. Vaughn’s fast-paced ramblings and James’ general goofiness are still present, but the staid business of infidelity and work-related pressures are rarely laughed at. The cast is certainly capable, but based on your expectations of the leading comedians you’ll either be pleasantly surprised by the film’s favor of examining realistic relationship tragedies or disappointed by the unfulfilled potential for supreme silliness.
Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Brannen (Kevin James) have been best friends since college and now as adults run an electric engine manufacturing company together. They also have idyllic relationships; Nick with wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) and Ronny with soon-to-be fianc?ï¿½e Beth (Jennifer Connelly). When Ronny inadvertently spies Geneva kissing a tattooed mystery man (Channing Tatum), he is faced with a formidable dilemma – does he tell Nick about his wife’s unfaithfulness and risk losing a major business deal for their company, or wait and chance losing his best friend altogether? Ronny’s predicament only grows worse when he confronts Geneva and she threatens to expose a long kept secret. As he struggles with his increasingly troublesome situation, Ronny begins to cause more problems than he’s able to fix and soon finds himself barreling towards a head-on collision with both his friends and the inescapable truth.
Although it’s primarily a comedy, The Dilemma delves into the dark infidelities of faulty relationships, which uncovers some serious predicaments. The cheeriest of comic relief interludes can’t overcome the solemnity of disloyalty and its destructive nature. But comedians Kevin James and Vince Vaughn certainly try, bringing their trademark playful, flirtatious, speedy, back-and-forth dialogue to the table. Allan Loeb writes the film, but with Vaughn producing, it’s likely the scripting was heavily influenced. The sickly-sweet “getting to know the characters” intro is the only segment that doesn’t scream of Vaughn’s verbal work, with the moral impasse and its resolution appearing to be director Ron Howard’s material. It’s a return to comedy after a decade of dramatic projects for the filmmaker, but not devoid of tragicomic substance.
The supporting cast of Ryder and Connelly overreaches in the attempt to portray chemistry, which feels like generically perceived romances instead of an authentic union. Channing Tatum and Queen Latifah are more believable as idiosyncratic quacks, but belong in a different movie. Fortunately, awkward confrontations, uncomfortable but funny scenarios, mixed messages, riotous hypothetical situations, and challenged urination make their way into The Dilemma, which is wholly watchable but substantially forgettable.
– The Massie Twins ( )