In a time of year after the all the hype and excitement of holiday movie releases has subsided, countless sequels and artsy films vying for Oscar recognition have come and gone, director Ron Howard (“Apollo 13,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Cinderella Man”) has chosen to eschew his normal dramas and character-driven action films for a comedy with “The Dilemma.”
Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Brannen (Kevin James) have been best friends since college. Nick is married to Geneva (Winona Ryder) and seems to have the perfect life. And Ronny is getting very serious with his longtime girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly). Life is good. The men have gone into business together developing and selling new and exciting technology to forward-thinking car companies. They finally get their big break in the form of a meeting with Chrysler to discuss a new and revolutionary technology for hybrid cars, only they are selling what they haven’t even finished developing yet. The pressure is on and Nick, who is the brains behind the design, is feeling the stress, while Ronny, the smooth talker, is trying to keep it all together. The craziness goes into overtime when Ronny catches Nick’s wife with a younger man (Channing Tatum). Not knowing how to tell his best friend of his wife’s adulterous actions, he goes in search of acquiring proof which leads to many altercations and misunderstandings. Now he has the dilemma of the title: if he tells Nick the truth, it will destroy him and they won’t finish the technology to get the contract with Chrysler. Will he be able to unload the entire truth on his friend and will their friendship endure this secret?
With an all-star cast like this, “The Dilemma” is likely to bring fans of Vince Vaughn and Kevin James to the theaters, but will they get what they expect from the dynamic duo? Vaughn is known for his wacky antics and his quick wit, and there are a lot of both in this film, but not the brand that you have come to know and love. Vaughn has taken a more serious role this time and although his fans will thoroughly enjoy his performance, those seeking pure laughs might not. I’m in the middle of these two categories, but I do like the fact that “The Dilemma” has some deep and dark issues rooted at its core. While billed as a “bromance” comedy, the movie delves deeper into the relationship and the bonds of friendship for some soul-searching truth about the rules of brotherhood. The rapport between the two male leads is great and I did enjoy watching it.
Connelly is underused in her role, but I thought she did a stellar job as the woman who could put up with Ronny’s antics and still love him. And Ryder does such a good job of portraying a lying and manipulative that I was really rooting for her to get what was coming to her. But some of the most off-beat and enjoyable scenes for me involved two of the supporting cast members: Queen Latifah as the executive at Chrysler who likes to share just a little too much of her excitement; and Channing Tatum as the tough guy with a sensitive heart with whom Geneva is cheating. Each delivered some of the best lines in the film and I got tons of laughs watching both of them play their roles out wonderfully. I would say that Tatum also went out of his normal types of roles for this movie and I’m glad that he did.
“The Dilemma” delivers some good laughs, but it is more of a drama than a comedy and that will be off-putting to some. There are subplots involving fear of commitment, prostitutes, gambling and more that didn’t have any real bearing on the tone and final outcome of the film. In the end, friendship and the importance of the truth are the main lessons to take away from “The Dilemma.”
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content, “The Dilemma” is in theaters now.
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