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Joseph’s Rating: 6/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.3/10
(3 ratings total)
If anyone else had directed The Dilemma, I would’ve been pleasantly surprised with it. Since Ron Howard directed it, it met my expectations. His latest film might be presented as a straight comedy in the promotions, but the best parts of it are the more serious dramatic moments.
Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Brannan (Kevin James) are business partners who have just scored a great meeting with developers at Dodge. The two aim to make their new electric cars less gay (as in not homosexual ‘gay,’ but your parents are chaperoning you at prom ‘gay’) by installing a sound system that mimics the sound of a roaring engine from 40 years ago, thus preserving manliness in those who want to drive more environmentally friendly cars.
It’s a little hard to believe that pitches like that work in real life in this day and age, but whatever. These two also have significant others in Beth (Jennifer Connelly) and Geneva (Winona Ryder).
“They’re perfect, look at them,” Ronny says to Beth as his best friend and spouse dance together.
Oh the irony. As Ronny hunts down the perfect place to propose to Beth, a botanical garden greenhouse thing, he spots Geneva making out with Zip (Channing Tatum). I guess people with weird names are just attracted to each other. Ronny now has a — drum roll — dilemma. He must decide whether he should tell his friend while he’s in the midst of developing this system critical to both of their well-beings, and eventually gets in so deep that it risks his own relationship, too.
There were a couple of scenes I found exemplary. One has Ronny and Geneva meeting in a coffee shop, each with different objectives. Ronny aims to let his friend know what’s going on, Beth aims to keep him in the dark. It plays like a chess game. He threatens her with the truth, she threatens him with lies.
“I’ll tell him you’re lying and that you made a pass at me. And he’ll believe it.”
Sounds far-fetched, Ronny thinks. “Sell that story to me.”
She calls his bluff in a way reminiscent of the restaurant scene from When Harry Met Sally, but much darker. Instantly, she’s in the tears, and she makes us believe that she can do it. You really have to see it to appreciate it, and it showcases Ryder’s abilities as an actress nicely.
The second scene is an intervention towards the end (Ronny’s a recovering gambler) where all the tension built up through the whole movie comes to a head, with all the main players in a room, where you know things are going spilled. How they are is actually surprisingly gut-wrenching.
As I said before, I found the dramatic moments to be much better than the comic ones, and occasionally Howard undercuts those moments by abruptly switching the tone of the scene from serious to humorous, as if he might be a tad afraid to let the scene go too long without a laugh. An example of this can be found in the last half of the previously mentioned intervention scene. The scene is moving right along with fierce intensity, up until Ronny needs to share “one other piece of information.” At this moment the tone switches, jarring us back into the comedy.
It’s forgivable. The good here outweighs the bad. Howard and company have trouble deciding on the tone of the picture, but I found myself interested the whole time.
Jennifer Connelly deserves special recognition. Beth is the perfect girlfriend: understanding, gorgeous, loving — the few moments she gets to shine are wonderful. There is a frustrating bit where Ronny and Beth argue after a very inappropriate toast at her parents’ anniversary, and she tries diligently to get him to tell her what’s on his mind. Solely because the script says so, he “can’t tell her,” and such a lame script choice only highlights her realistic, adult approach to the character. It’s a bad scene because the actions of Ronny’s character don’t make sense, but a good one in terms of her performance.
At the end of the day, I thought it worth the money.
Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Allan Loeb
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah, Channing Tatum
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Dinah thought: “Infidelity-themed comedies are the new trend in Hollywood and Vince Vaughn is leading the pack with The Dilemma. The romantic comedy was portrayed in advertising as a guy-friendly bromance, but don’t be fooled; this is pure formulaic chick flick territory. The pacing is a bit uneven, like for instance, Queen Latifah infrequently pops up as a dealership consultant with unusual slang and annoying energy. Her character could have easily been dropped from the film without a batted eyelash. Channing Tatum, as the young stud having an affair with Winona Ryder’s character, is spot-on hilarious though not given enough screen time. Kevin James is ever the affable fat friend and Vince Vaughn his usual sarcastic man-child. There is nothing new to see here. Rating 3/10
Steven’s Rating: 4/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.3/10