Film Review – The Dilemma

2010 – 111mn – 12A

Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah.Review by Walter Nichols.

What was Ron Howard thinking? The Oscar-winning director of Frost/Nixon, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 and The Paper has apparently decided that, after the shockingly mediocre Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons movies, his career might be revived by a rude, crude Vince Vaughn comedy. Someone’s agent is getting fired.

The “plot” of The Dilemma has confirmed bachelor Ronny Valentine (Vaughn – and yes, that IS the character’s actual name) discover that the wife of his best friend Nick (Kevin James) is having an affair with a hunky younger man (Channing Tatum). Rather than tell his friend outright, Ronny decides to investigate how and why the affair came to be, and learns that Nick has a few secrets of his own. Mild mayhem, lots of self-satisfied improv, and Queen Latifah ensue.

Some films – once, maybe twice a year – are a painful embarrassment to watch, like witnessing a relative doing something incredibly humiliating in public. The Dilemma is one of those films. It’s hard to fathom how anyone could have thought the film was a good idea in the first place. Vaughn’s last several films (Fred Claus, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases) have all been turkeys. Kevin James is a TV actor. The best of writer Allan Loeb’s CV are the middling and forgettable The Switch and 21, the tremendous disappointment Wall Street 2, and TV shows New Amsterdam and The Beast (don’t feel bad about not having seen them – nobody has). Even Howard’s last good film is over half-a-decade old.

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Unsurprisingly, the film is exactly what the shoddy lineup promises: lazy, crass, messy and unfunny. Howard can’t even pin the tone down, and for long stretches his movie turns into a relationship melodrama with barely a gag in sight, straining painfully for meaning and depth; only to suddenly revert back to buddy sitcom comedy. The Dilemma wasn’t worth making, and it surely isn’t worth your time watching.

Star rating: 0 out of 5 stars

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