From Academy Award winning director Ron Howard comes a January movie. The Dilemma is about a dilemma that’s very real, but it’s not funny. So they fill the movie with contrived B.S. that’s also not funny.
Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are couple friends. They’re best friends but they always hang out with their significant others too — Ronny’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) and Nick’s girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly). They talk about what it takes to really know someone, and they dance because you liked Kevin James dancing in Hitch.
Nick and Ronny have a car idea for GM. That’s the big job they work on in between relationship issues. I always wonder who comes up with the jobs people do in movies when they don’t actually matter. Did screenwriter Allan Loeb really think, “I really want to tell the story of electric engine designers in crisis?” Or did he say, “Let Ron Howard figure out what they do for a living.”
While scouting a location for his own proposal, Ronny catches Geneva making out with a dude we’ll later learn is Zip (Channing Tatum). Does he tell his best friend? Would it be more human to wait until all the pressure of the GM deal is over? Well, it’s a movie so any mature decision Ronny could make is off the table.
Remember when Vince Vaughn used to keep it real? No gimmicks, just breaking the tension of real relationships with comedy. To fill out two hours in The Dilemma, he has to fall into some poison plants that make his pee hurt, argue over the audience trick shot at a hockey game, and climb trees to spy on Zip.
Vaughn is out of things to riff about, so he does the speech from Miracle. Ronny makes up lies about what trouble he’s been in because he can’t tell Beth he’s planning a proposal and he can’t tell Nick what he knows. Dropping a wad of cash (intended for a ring) and keeping secrets make it look like Ronny’s gambling again. Misunderstanding circumstances is not the same as a joke.
The women give some powerhouse performances though. Geneva shows Ronny how she can turn on the tears if she has to claim Ronny made a pass at her to cover her ass. It’s pretty evil, but evil is not funny. Beth is the most amazing girlfriend ever. In the face of ridiculous behavior, she wants to be supportive and Ronny’s the ass to refuse. Queen Latifah talks about her lady wood in an embarrassing bit part, and it’s so funny that she says it twice. But Connelly and Ryder make something out of this nonsense.
There is some good drama in the resolution, but this ain’t the drama version. They had their chance to make a drama and they made the wrong choice.