There is a scene in The Dilemma where Kevin James is explaining a scenario to Vince Vaughn, in which Vaughn replies with something along the lines of, “I have no idea what you’re trying to say to me.” Pretty much how one will feel during this 118 minute misleading drama. Yes…Drama. Director Ron Howard and company either forgot to add the comedy – as the trailer and marketing suggest – and/or had a senior moment and forgot what is considered humorous material. Put it this way, a Vince Vaughn toast at a dinner party seemed desperate and lost.
Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are best friends and current business partners. Their friendship was forged during their time at college together. Twenty-years later, all is seemingly well. Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) is also from the same school and the three have been tight-knit friends who are now living in Chicago. As a major business opportunity comes up for the boys, Ronny is also debating on whether to pop the question to his long-time girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly). Nick and Geneva urge him to make the move and Ronny decides to make preparations for the proposal.
Everything is running on all cylinders with regards to their business and personal relationships. Until Ronny catches Geneva sucking face with a younger looking tattooed rocker named Zip (Channing Tatum). Confused on how to handle the situation, Ronny first confronts Geneva, who immediately takes the defensive but eventually strikes a deal with Ronny about how to break it to Nick. When Geneva fails to live up to her end of the bargain, Ronny takes things into his own hands. By doing so, he puts added stress on himself for he has trouble finding the right way to tell his best friend what is really going on. Hence, the dilemma. Which then puts Ronny through continuous mental and physical anguish.
Simply put, Dilemma is atrocious from a comedic perspective and barely works as a compelling drama. If the script just went all in with the dramatic approach this flick would have been engaging and dare I say emotional on some levels. By the final act, the audience will begin to feel a little something for the characters, therefore, enabling the ending to be intriguing. Problem is, the flick kept trying to be awkwardly funny and it just wasn’t happening. The entire cast had bags under their eyes. This is brought up because the one aspect that the audience will continuously feel is how hard they are trying to do anything that can register a true laugh. Seeing the talent on screen, of course a few one-liners work, but they are out of place and desperate (there’s that word again).
The thought that kept entering my mind…Why is there so many worthless scenes? I’m all for a flick taking its time these days but at least have a purpose. Felt as if Ron Howard was stretching for time as seen on award shows when they are actually moving ahead of schedule. With this material (and I’ll forget about the false advertising campaign for a second), either bang it out in 90 minutes or truly go for it as a comprehensive drama. Do not worry about appeasing the audience because they expect Vaughn and James to do something funny every five minutes (I would have settled for something funny every 30 minutes by the way). Be what you want to be and try not to hold back. If there is any “lesson” taken away from the underlying themes of this flick, it is sadly that last gem of a sentence previously written.
Overall – and ironically – there is a Dilemma here. This flick is confused and needed a strong edit on multiple levels. There is definitely a good story hiding somewhere in this poorly executed drama. And if one is able to deal with the forced entries of comedy, then this can be manageable.
In after reading all of this (hopefully), if one is having a personal dilemma on whether to see this in theaters, they would be wise to adhere to my words. I am the friend who is not afraid to have the tough discussion with you. Avoid this marketing farce and teach the studios a lesson. No one is going to get mislead on my watch people!
The Dilemma is rated PG-13 and opens on January 14th
Rating: 2 out of 5