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Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 12:28 am

A Dilemma in more ways than one

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Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly, Vince Vaughn and Kevin James in The Dilemma.

I have a feeling that the title of Ron Howard’s new movie took on multiple meanings for the versatile director. While making successful comedies and dramas is nothing new for the filmmaker, The Dilemma suggests he simply didn’t know how to approach this material. While the film’s premise is pitched as a comedy, its story is a bit too messy to be taken as a lark. As its darker undertones sneak in, the mood of the film shifts to something more than a bit uncomfortable.

Ronny and Nick (Vince Vaughn and Kevin James) are best friends and business partners whose company is on the verge of a major success. However, when Ronny sees Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) in a hot embrace with a tattooed himbo (Channing Tatum), he finds himself dealing with a crisis of conscience. Should he tell his best friend about his discovery or keep it all under wraps to spare his feelings? While wrestling with this, Ronny himself becomes a bit of a liar, keeping from his girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly) all that he’s going through and winding up in uncomfortable predicaments because of it.

The film is funny at times, in a boyish adolescent way. How much you enjoy the film depends on how much you like Vaughn’s overbearing boyish act. For me, a little of him goes a long way and here, he goes too far. What seals the movie’s fate, however, is its final act, which gets a bit too serious for its own good. Howard bungles the transition as the shift in tones is much too sudden and the film’s halves don’t make a whole. Had the movie been presented as a broad comedy of manners or in the similar vein of Vaughn’s underrated The Break-Up, this project would have posed no dilemma at all for those saddled with making it.  

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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