Review: The Dilemma
PLOT: Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are life-long best friends, and business partners. When Ronny discovers Nick's wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) is cheating on him, he must decide whether to tell his friend about the affair, or keep his mouth shut.
REVIEW: Here's the major problem with THE DILEMMA. Any best friend worth a damn that discovers their friend is being cheated on has a duty to come clean, and let their friend know they're being screwed around on. Sure, it's an uncomfortable position to be in, but friendship isn't all sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you have to do the right thing, even if it isn't the easy thing.
To defend THE DILEMMA to a degree, early on Ronny tries to tell Nick about the affair- but is unable to go through with it, as he's afraid of screwing up a big business deal that hinges on Nick's being able to deliver a high powered electric motor of his own design. Later on, he gets sucked deeper into Geneva's web of lies, when she in turn, threatens to tell Nick about a one night stand the two had in their college years. This seems like a pretty weak way to sustain the premise, but without it I guess there would be no film.
However, that doesn't change the fact that the whole premise is really stupid, and unless it got changed sometime during production, it amazes me that Allan Loeb's script was able to attract Ron Howard as a director. Granted, Howard's more hit and miss than some make him out to be (I'd wager his last really good film was CINDERELLA MAN), but he's a much better director than this material deserves. It feels like this whole film was just a quick lark to kill time before gearing up for the epic DARK TOWER adaptation he's attached to. Howard hasn't made this weak a film since his last comedy, ED TV, and it just feels like Howard let star Vince Vaughn improvise his way through the film, hoping that Vaughn would be able to make up for any holes in the premise.
To that effect, Vaughn is actually better here than he's been in a while, but that's not saying much as other than a tiny supporting role in the great INTO THE WILD, he's made nothing but garbage since THE BREAK-UP. I mean, what the hell happened to this guy? He used to be one of the coolest young actors in Hollywood, but now he's a paycheck guy appearing in films like FRED CLAUS, FOUR CHRISTMASES, COUPLES RETREAT, and now this.
At least this is a step-up from his last few films, but it kills me to see such a talented guy waste himself in film after film. Next to Nicolas Cage and Robert DeNiro post-1999, you'd be hard pressed to find a better actor that appears in such consistently bad films. For 70% of the movie, he's just doing the same tired old shtick he's been doing for years. But, there are a few other scenes, especially whenever he's playing opposite Jennifer Connelly (who's great in what could have been a thankless girlfriend role) that push the film into dramatic territory and hint at the fact that this could have been something far more worthwhile than it ended up being. Vaughn's character is a recovering gambling addict, and he's totally convincing as a guy with that type of problem, as a lot of his motor mouthed shtick could be seen as a self-defence mechanism. Connelly's character has a way of seeing through his bullshit, and their scenes together almost make the film worth seeing.
Sadly, the rest of the film is garbage. Kevin James plays pretty much the same role he's been playing since KING OF QUEENS, and while this is certainly better than PAUL BLART: MALL COP, it's not enough to convince me James is going to be a guy capable of putting out quality work in the future, as he also strikes me as a total paycheck guy.
As for Winona Ryder, I can't for the life of me understand why they decided to make her character into such a nasty piece of work, as the only way this premise could have possibly work is if we sympathized with her a bit- which we don't for a second. Ryder does her best with the two-dimensional role, but she deserves better.
Funny enough, the one guy here that really impressed me was Channing Tatum, who's actually kinda funny is his small role as the guy Ryder's cheating with. He plays a totally zonked-out moron named Zip, and he's actually pretty damn funny and manages to steal every single scene he's in. I've gotta say, nobody's been more critical of Tatum than me over the last few years, but it really feels like he's improving as an actor. Tatum actually seems to be trying to stretch himself with each film- which definitely distinguishes him from James and Vaughn, who phone it in.
Other than a few chuckles from Tatum, and some surprisingly affecting scenes between Connelly and Vaughn, THE DILEMMA's just another bad comedy. It's about as crappy as the trailers make it seem- and if you found them as painful to sit through as I did, you should avoid this like the plague.