Verdict: Howard and Vaughn struggle to find the right mix of comedy and drama
Director Ron Howard lightens up with this comedy/drama, taking a break from his more recent dramatic, weighty and Oscar winning productions such as A Beautiful Mind. It's been a while since Howard delved into this kind of playful material (like Splash or Parenthood) and it shows as he struggles to get the tone of the comedy right.
The core dilemma Howard faces is he's been given a pretty average script; one never clear on whether it is an outright comedy or a drama. The Dilemma tries to manage a blend of the two, but one minute it's attempting over-the-top and crude slapstick comedy and the next it's all sweet and touchy-feely, meaning this melodrama (or comedy, or bro-mance, or whatever you want to call it) is oddly disjointed.
The premise poses the question: "would you tell your best friend if you discovered their partner was having an affair?". The answer could be a relatively simple "yes" or "no" but this script resorts to crazy antics and subplots to stretch the idea out to feature film length.
This means that when Ronny Valentine (Vaughn) discovers Geneva (Winona Ryder), wife of his best friend and business partner Nick (James), cavorting with young tattooed Zip (Channing Tatum) he puts himself unnecessarily through the wringer trying to decide whether he should tell his friend.
Ronny, an ex-gambling addict, stalks, threatens, lies, rages and even prays his way through his dilemma, creating misunderstandings with his family and friends, and his girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly), the only sane, sincere person to be found.
Vaughn does his usual slick motormouth routine, charming one minute and cringeworthy the next. With bags under his eyes and carrying a slight bloat he at least looks like he's gotten into the role and had a few stressful, sleepless nights, but his larger than life physical presence, inappropriate comments and bullying demeanor are out of step with the rest of a film which is made of straighter stuff.
When it comes to human relationships, The Dilemma fails to deliver an insightful or emotionally honest viewpoint; no matter how intent Howard is on looking for some meaning. It's not laugh out loud material, but it is amusing, and while Ronny may be frustrating there is a level of intrigue in seeing how he's going to get himself out of the mess he's made.
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James
Director: Ron Howard
Running time: 111 mins
Rating: M (sex scenes and offensive language)