The plot takes an absurd route to get to the expected ending, which fizzles just like the rest of the movie.
The Dilemma is exactly what you think it’s going to be: another failed vehicle for Vince Vaughn to play the “Vince Vaughn character” while getting involved in ridiculous situations that feel contrived and annoying. This movie is practically unrecognizable from his previous efforts: Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, The Break-Up, etc. The only difference here is that Ron Howard is the director. But we’re not talking about the Ron Howard of A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man— this is more the Ron Howard of Splash and Night Shift.
Vaughn plays Ronny Valentine (seriously?) who, with his best friend Nick (Kevin James), owns a company that makes electric cars louder. That’s all they do. Maybe to a gear head this might be a vaguely interesting idea, but to most viewers it just sounds obnoxious. The best buds are attempting to pitch their technology to Chrysler in a last-ditch effort to avoid losing all of their money.
Ronny is dating Beth (Jennifer Connelly) but has no immediate plans to get married. Nick, who is happily married to Geneva (Winona Ryder), encourages him to pop the question before he loses his chance. While planning the perfect proposal, Ronny accidentally sees Geneva kissing another man. The main conflict of the movie is whether or not he should tell Nick, given the extreme pressure they are both under due to the pitch to Chrysler.
I wish I could say Howard and screenwriter Allan Loeb added anything even remotely original or entertaining, but they do not. Loeb, who wrote Things We Lost in the Fire and 21 is clearly not cut out for comedy, even when given a wonderful cast on which he can rely for terrific performances. The plot takes an absurd route to get to the expected ending, which fizzles just like the rest of the movie.
The movie’s only saving grace is Ryder, who gives a wonderful performance as the selfish and manipulative Geneva. She introduces us to her character as the loving, supportive wife but quickly yanks the curtain back to show the true depth of her depravity. It is so great to see Ryder in a leading role again. Though she dropped off the mainstream radar for a few years, she hasn’t lost any of the charisma or talent that made one of the biggest female stars of the 90s. Her performance here as well as her small, but crucial, role in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan might be the launch pad for a career comeback that would be graciously welcomed.
Not known for his comedic abilities, Channing Tatum does a decent job as Zip, Geneva’s other man. Tatum brings some of the movie’s only laughs, which is saying a lot considering he shares a screen with the once-great Vaughn.
The Dilemma is one of the more disappointing movies in recent memory because of the talent that is wasted, both that of the actors and the filmmakers. With any luck, this movie will be dumped onto basic cable within six months’ time and forgotten like so many of its predecessors. | Matthew F. Newlin