Review by Jack Foley
AS MOVIE concepts go, the predicament at the centre of The Dilemma is a bit of a corker – one that’s ripe for mining both comedy and drama.
So, it’s all the more disappointing to find that the movie that ensues – directed by Ron Howard and featuring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder – fails to realise most of it’s potential.
Rather, it’s a bloated, messy experience that struggles to be funny or moving and which devotes far too much time to the fast-talking, showboating skills of it’s leading swinger.
Hence, Vince Vaughn takes centre stage as Ronny Valentine, the best friend of apparently happily married business partner Nick Brannen (James), who is dismayed to discover that his wife Geneva (Ryder) is having an affair.
Ronny’s subsequent mis-handling of the dilemma at hand places his own relationship with Beth (Connelly) under threat as he first ponders how to tell Nick and then attempts to intervene on his behalf.
The Dilemma actually started life as a what if dinner party conversation between Howard and his producing friend and partner Brian Grazer, before being expanded upon and pitched to Vaughn, who has come to specialise in comedies that derive humour from the problems inherent in a lot of relationships (witness The Break-Up and Couple’s Retreat).
But what follows is emotionally shallow, hideously contrived and more than a little self-indulgent.
Vaughn is given way too much room to hog the limelight and does so to the detriment of the film – simply put, you quickly cease caring about anyone concerned.
Connelly is given too little to do, Ryder is a surprisingly one dimensional villain and James’ somehow emerges as hard done by despite evidence to the contrary – his culpability in the failing of his marriage one of several loose ends the movie fails to address.
It’s disappointing, too, that James seems to be relying a little too much on his Hitch persona to win the audience over rather than really getting to grips with a potentially intiguing character.
Channing Tatum, meanwhile, crops up as Ryder’s lover but is employed to merely cartoonish effect, sharing a couple of OTT scenes that bring nothing worthwhile to the game.
But then a lot of what takes place seems poorly conceived with even the ‘bro-mance’ element overplayed to the extent that you end up feeling that James and Vaughn would make a better ‘couple’.
The Dilemma is therefore a wholly misguided comedy drama that consistently squanders both concept and talent – which is especially surprising given Howard’s usual high standards.
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: May 30, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Jennifer Connelly interview
- Ron Howard interview