"The Dilemma" Movie Review

1/17/2011 Posted by Admin

"The Dilemma"

Movie Review

Directed by Ron Howard, Written by Allan Loeb, 112-minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Heavy on character and light on laughs, Ron Howard's "The Dilemma" is a mixed bag. In both tone and story, the film switches gears frequently, and as Howard struggles to find his comedic and dramatic focus, he leaves his star Vince Vaughn visibly confused. Things ware on slowly, with no end or jokes in sight, making this dilemma look more like an overlong ordeal.

On the eve of closing a major deal, Ronny (Vince Vaughn) discovers the wife of his best friend and partner, Nick (Kevin James), kissing another man. Concerned how his unstable friend will take the news, Ronny looks for proof in all the wrong places, as a rivalry with Nick's wife Genevieve (Wynonna Rider) compounds things.

As he acts more suspiciously, balancing all aspects of the lie, Ronny puts his deal and various relationships in turmoil, especially with his longtime girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly).

Things complicate quickly as Allan Loeb's script gives Vaughn a lot to work with, yet none of it goes anywhere. Ronny's gambling addiction creates an unnecessary strain on his relationship and never gets the payoff such a characteristic requires. Instead, it's used as a simple plot device to get the characters to the film's anticlimactic conclusion.

Vaughn isn't sure how to handle these many character points. His focus is clear, but all of these changing characteristics baffle the actor. He spends much of the film stuttering lines, unsure how his character would react in these situations. Ronny's many faults never progress the plot, causing the pacing to falter as well.

Kevin James is just as uncertain. Nick literally remains clueless throughout the entire film, as he spends much of it working on cars. Other people talk about his problems, but Howard rarely gives James a chance to express them. These characters know there’s a problem, but they never actively try to solve it.

Rider, Connelly and surprisingly Channing Tatum are quite enjoyable, but that's due to their lack of material. They're allowed to play off the situation, while the others are bogged down in details.

Howard's comedic sensibilities just aren't as strong as his dramatic ones. He's equally unsure how to portray the film's goofier moments, so he clings to the more serious problems, like gambling. Likewise, he gives the film a dark look, unfitting of the generally lighthearted material.

Despite the talent on hand, "The Dilemma" can't commit to the simplicity of its premise. It's a shame, too--bro-mance is Vaughn's specialty, and he’s rarely allowed to play to that strength.

Grade: C-

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