by / January 25th, 2011 /

The Dilemma

Review by on January 25th, 2011

Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly.
Cert: 12A
Running Time: 118min‎

This might have been a good film; why not? Vince Vaughn is talented and occasionally hilarious (though he hasn’t been for a while), and Ron Howard directed Splash (which was nice) and Parenthood (which I love). The Dilemma, however, falls between two stools – the characters behave broadly as they would in a comedy, but its attempts at a little pathos and drama are dulled by the broad strokes in the characterisation. The jokes, meanwhile, are both sparse and inert.

The premise isn’t bad – Ronny Valentie (Vaughn) sees his best friend’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) hooking up with another, much younger man known as ‘Zip’ (Channing Tatum) – does he tell his friend (reasonably played by Kevin James), or save his pain?

So much of the film doesn’t make sense – why doesn’t Nick just spill the beans? Or why doesn’t he hire a private eye to get evidence to incriminate Geneva? It certainly makes more sense than spending every spare minute spying on her himself, and jeopardising his relationship with his lovely girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly) in the process.

The Dilemma got in hot water before its release because the trailer contained a character saying “gay” in a pejorative sense. Homophobia is not cool, of course, but a greater problem for the film is that a character saying that hybrid cars are gay is considered one of the highlights – a moment funny enough to put into the film’s promotional material.

Tatum, of all people, comes out of this with the most dignity. A lumbering hulk of abs, he taps into hitherto unknown comic and slapstick talents for his role as Geneva’s illicit lover. I dare say his confrontation with Vince Vaughn is the film’s one good scene.

By the way, the rumoured budget for this good-looking, star-filled film is $90million – proving, if proof were needed, that there’s nothing more cost-effective than a joke.