The Dilemma

The Dilemma

Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, and Winona Ryder
Directed by Ron Howard
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content
Appropriate for ages 15+

    Ronny and Nick (Vaughn and James) have been best friends since college and business partners after that.  But just days before the biggest presentation of their lives, Ronny discovers that Nick’s wife (Ryder) is cheating on him, giving him the dilemma of telling Nick and ruining any chance of going into the presentation prepared or waiting until afterward knowing that his best friend might hate him for it.

    I had very preconceived notions going into this film.  After watching the trailer, this appeared to be nothing more than Vaughn doing his fast-talking obnoxious persona with James’s cartoon like physical antics.  And to be honest, the film starts out like that.  But then the script by Allan Loeb and the directing by Ron Howard kick in, taking the movie away from Vaughn and James and giving something more respectable back to the audience.  This very well could have been a stupid broad comedy, but the laughs end fairly early, making the picture more of a thought-provoking experience. 

    After all, cheating is not really funny.  Especially when the elements of cheating dealt with are deceit and hurt.  Don’t misunderstand me, there is an underlying comedy here, but it serves more as a form of tension relief than the purpose of the film.  That being said, Vaughn was very well cast here and James gives the best performance of his career and proves that he can take on the drama.  In fact, he’s better at drama than comedy, but with his looks and physicality, comedy will most like remain his bread and butter, no matter how irritating he is with it (okay – I get it – he likes to goofy dance).  Ryder, who is seeing quite a resurgence thanks to this and Black Swan, plays the dishonest but victimized wife well.  Perhaps the scene stealer is Channing Tatum whose other guy role is quite the despicable character.  I was a bit turned off by Queen Latifah’s character due to its lack of believability and her choice to take it over the top when it just wasn’t necessary.

    Now the audience dilemma: who is the audience?  This is a movie about cheating, so it makes for a pretty lousy date movie.  Maybe it’s a dude flick, but it certainly lacks the action and violence needed there.  It’s not really a comedy, so you can forget the folks who just want to laugh.  It’s certainly not a chick flick.  This leaves a sort of gap.  Sure there are those that love Ron Howard, Vince Vaughn or Kevin James, but they will typically only go see the kinds of films those folks are known for.  So while it’s a decent pic, I’m not sure if it will get seen much in theaters and has the chance to disappoint many of the people who do show up.  B+