The Dilemma is a sort-of rom-com for director Ron Howard, that deals with an ultimate test in friendship. With some big name actors in the mix, this film has a lot to live up to, and it being Howard’s first endeavour into the genre since Edtv (1999) will certainly put it under extra scrutiny, which honestly, it really does not need.
So, the dilemma in question is, if your best friend’s wife is cheating on him, do you tell him? That’s exactly what happens to Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn), but not only is it his best friend, it’s also his business partner.
On the brink of closing a major deal that would see them make a lot of money, Ron sees Nick’s (Kevin James) wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder), kissing another man. Ron is now faced with the dilemma of telling his friend the truth, potentially jeopardizing their business venture, or keeping quiet and betraying his friend. The story takes more twists and turns as Ron is a recovering gambling addict and his erratic behaviour makes his long-time girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly), suspicious.
What this film suffers from mainly is a lack of chemistry between the lead roles. It’s a mixed bag of actors that don’t seem to complement each other on screen. Vince Vaughn seems to be struggling at the moment to find a film that will show off his skills as a comedic performer, and here he just doesn’t seem to gel with onscreen buddy, Kevin James. Jennifer Connelly’s role doesn’t allow her to do much, but Winona Ryder does well as an complex woman cheating on her husband. She brings humour to a pretty crazy woman, whom the audience is meant to dislike.
So, although this is a comedy, the jokes are few and far between, and when they do arise, it’s usually the supporting cast that hold the laughs. Two minor characters who do make pleasant screen additions are Queen Latifah, who plays Susan, a business executive helping the guys with their venture, and Channing Tatum, who plays Zip, Winona’s bit on the side. These two characters are sharp and entertaining, but not on screen enough when it’s really needed.
It isn’t all bad, and there are some pretty chucklesome moments, but the whole film lags in momentum. It gets going, then there’s a whole lot of nothing going on, and it’s easy to get distracted while watching it.
For what it essentially is, it’s hard to believe it achieves a run time of 111 minutes, but then it also feels much longer. Funnily enough, Ron Howard says in the extra feature ‘making of’ documentary, the original cut was far too long, which is quite unbelievable, as there’s far too much still in it that they could cut without it affecting the outcome, and possibly making it a more snappy, funny film.
So, it’s not the comedy it makes out to be, and then on top of that, it gets slightly annoying in the way the story pans out. Vaughn’s character runs around the whole time doing the opposite of what he should be doing and I couldn’t help but think, “Dear god, man. Do you have no social skills? This whole thing could be easily sorted with a bit of honesty.”
Obviously, if he did do that there may not have been much of a story, but then the film would have been a bit shorter, and I’ll be honest, that’s really no bad thing.
For Ron Howard, this film is hit and miss, and it’s easy to see that this is the first comedy film he’s attempted for a while.
The Dilemma is not entirely sure what it wants to be. It’s not that funny, but it’s not that endearing either. So, as an audience, it’s easy to get bored and lose interest, which is a shame, considering the potential it had.
The DVD comes with a handful of extras that will pretty much only interest you if you thought the film was hilarious. They include a pretty pointless alternate ending, deleted scenes with an introduction from Ron Howard, a gag reel and a documentary on the making of the film called This is The Dilemma. There isn’t anything too special here, but that pretty much reflects the overall feel of the feature.
The Dilemma is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.