Film Review “The Dilemma”

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and Jennifer Connelly
Directed by: Ron Howard
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 58 mins

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

What if you spotted your best friends’ significant other with someone else. Would you tell your friend? Tell YOUR significant other? And if so, how would you do it? Those are just some of the questions asked by director Ron Howard and the cast of “The Dilemma.”

Ronny (Vaughn) and Nick (James) have been best friends since they met in college. Together they run a successful engine designing company. Ronny is head over heels for Beth (Connelly) while Nick has been happily married to Geneva (Winona Ryder). While pondering the right place to propose to Beth, Ronny stumbles onto Geneva in a serious lip-lock with Zip (a surprisingly funny Channing Tatum). When he confronts her she tries to turn the tables on him. What follows is an occasionally funny and very touching story.

The film is being advertised as if it was the latest outrageous Vince Vaughn comedy. But don’t be fooled. While there are a few intentionally funny moments, “The Dilemma” is also a story about relationships. Both between husbands and wives and between friends. As business partners, Ronny and Nick have a unique partnership. Nick is the obvious brains while Ronny is able to convince others to support their work. He also has a habit of motivating Nick by reciting Kurt Russell’s “now is our time” speech from the film “Miracle.” Classic Vaughn. But there are also parts in the film where Vaughn has to dig past the funny faces and emote, and he does a fine job. Same with Kevin James. As I pointed out three years ago when I reviewed “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” I had never watched “The King of Queens” so that film was my introduction to James. I admired his work in that film; his work here more so. Connelly, who just turned 40 but looks the same as she did twenty five years ago in “Labyrinth,” brings a quiet vulnerability to Beth, especially in scenes between her and Vaughn. Ryder, who is also shining on screen right now in “Black Swan,” is just as solid here.

This film is familiar territory to director Howard (“Parenthood”) but, as always, he finds a way to get the right performances from his actors, keeping the story flowing and, even more important, interesting. Plus, you have to admire a man who makes sure his father (Rance) and brother (Clint) are working. Each have appeared in (15) of Howard’s past films and they’re appearance is always welcome.

The film gained a little bad pre-opening publicity when a shot of Vaughn using the word “gay” showed up in the trailer. Universal cut the scene from the preview but Howard maintained the word was in no way meant as a slur. It remains in the film and the reaction Vaughn receives on film is exactly the one Howard was going for. Way to stand by your guns, Ron!

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