Over the last month, it seems like every time I sat down to watch TV, I was overwhelmed with the same preview over and over for The Dilemma. I worried that like many comedies of today, the preview showcased the best jokes, and made the movie seem worse than it already was by the time you actually viewed it.
In the case of The Dilemma, we have what appears to be, at best, an average movie with some good laughs and an overall believable story which doesn’t necessarily fall into predictable classification, but it is not really full of surprises either. Luckily, the preview actually gives us some of the least-funny jokes the movie has to offer and thus, it is somewhat enjoyable and unexpectedly funny. Furthermore, the preview actually hypes this movie up as another Dodgeball or The Break-up style Vince Vaughn movie. They lied. What we actually have here is a Ron Howard style-comedy, which means a dramedy, a la The Paper.
Oscar winning director Ron Howard has an interesting resume, with some classics and some clunkers all sandwiched in between each other. For every Frost/Nixon, you have a Da Vinci Code. The terrible How the Grinch Stole Christmas one year, and a best director win for A Beautiful Mind the year after. In essence, he makes both movies and films. It is rare that you find a director who can successfully do both well. Howard can and almost does here.
With The Dilemma, we have not his best work, but far from his worst. Vince Vaughn plays Ronnie Valentine, a Chicago businessman. He is best friends with Nick (Kevin James), and together they are working on a project which will give newly-designed electric cars, which are imitated after classic muscle cars, what they are missing. That is, the sounds and vibrations of the real gas-powered muscle car, which would make them seem closer to the real experience. Getting an audition to pitch their idea to a Detroit car manufacturer, they eventually are allowed to try and develop the technology.
Meanwhile, Valentine decides he wants to marry his longtime girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly) before he loses his chance. Planning a perfect time and place to propose, he goes to a local botanical garden to try and plan the play-by-play of the proposal. However, while he is there, he sees Nick’s wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder), making out with some guy named Zip (expertly played by Channing Tatum).
So Valentine is faced with a bit of a dilemma – does he tell Nick? Now that they have gotten their big breakthrough, presenting this issue to his best friend while he is finalizing the technology could jeopardize their chances at securing a long-term-deal and achieving financial security. But he is his best friend and that means he is required to share this information, right? Well that is the dilemma and this is the story of Ronnie’s struggle with this issue.
Tatum, is absolutely amazing as the ‘other guy’. When we first meet him, he is amped up on OxyCotin and is able to jump from absolute rage in one second, to tears in the next. He has the best lines in the movie and keeps you laughing every time he is on screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy was actually popping Oxys during shooting.
Ryder, who hasn’t contributed much to the acting profession since her infamous arrest for shoplifting in Beverley Hills, nearly steals the show with her surprisingly sharp role as the cheating wife. One scene in particular, in which she shows Valentine exactly how she will respond if he tells Nick, immediately reminds me of Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. She shows us just how scornful a woman can be in a minute’s notice.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Connelly does well with what she has, but one has to ask, what is she doing with Vince Vaughn? Vaughn is a little more likable than normal, but he is still a bit of a chauvinist as in most of his roles, and Connelly is too beautiful to be with him and it just seems unbelievable, although they surprisingly have a bit of unexpected chemistry. James is getting better in movie roles, which I feel he has struggled with initially, but he still has some work to do to complete the transition from small screen to big screen.
As mentioned earlier, what we have here is a dramedy. A drama that happens to be funny. Basically it works and it doesn’t work. What I like about the movie is that it touches on interesting issues in relationships and friendships alike; I am sure this story has been done before, though I can’t think of when. Either way, I came out of this movie presently surprised. I think Vince Vaughn and Kevin James are growing up before our eyes, but they haven’t got there yet.
At least the preview didn’t spoil all the good jokes. As a matter-of-fact, the preview bills this movie as exactly what it is not. Overall, it’s an enjoyable film and a solid effort by director Ron Howard. It moves a bit slow here and there and James and Vaughn may not be on their A game, but the story is interesting and it’s backed by a strong supporting cast. It’s a funny film that will surely entertain. Go out and see it, you probably won’t be too disappointed.
The Dilemma really succeeds at being funny in places, while still keeping the story interesting, making it a very enjoyable film.