The Dilemma (2011)“Ladies and gentlemen: electric cars… they’re totally gay.”

Ron Howard (Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code) has directed a mess of a movie, starring the funny Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. It is unfair that this movie was advertised as a comedy because it really is not. You see Vince Vaughn and Kevin James and automatically think that it will be funny. Some people go as far as to say it is a dramedy, which is an equal blend of drama and comedy; calling it that genre would suit it if it actually was funny. I like to think of The Dilemma as a drama that has some comedic moments in it but for the most part is a very serious and emotional film, but alas, that is not what was intended. There is some very well done emotional scenes, which in itself is good, but doesn’t work in a comedy. People going into this expecting a good time will come out disappointed.

The movie centers on two best friends since college, Ronny Valentine (Vaughn) and Nick Brannen (James) who are partners in an automobile business. Vaughn is more kept together and cool whereas James is the type of person that gets nervous very easily and he has a stomach ulcer. They both put in good dramatic performances as well as comedic (when the rare funny scene comes around). Their wives are played by Jennifer Connelly (Vaughn’s wife) and Winona Ryder (James’ wife). Connelly puts in a good performance as usual, whereas Ryder is so-so much like most of her movies.  Vaughn and James are on the verge of a huge business deal when Vaughn catches Ryder cheating on James with a younger man named Zip (Channing Tatum), who does play a good comedic role, if only the material he was given was funny. This is Vaughn’s dilemma: Should he tell James that his wife is cheating on him and risk James having a meltdown and possibly screwing up their business deal or does he wait until after the deal to tell him? Vaughn is leaned much more towards just telling him, but advice from others is to wait. I don’t know how this was expected to be a comedy on such an unfunny subject. 

Kevin James is barely in this movie, which is such a waste of talent. I honestly think if he were in it more than the movie might have had a chance. Vaughn is the “funny” man in this movie, but his unfunny antics shouldn’t be credited to him, but to the writer.  Slapstick is the shtick in this movie, along with some sharp dialogue delivered by the actors well, but just isn’t funny.

Queen Latifah plays a small comic relief role that might as well not be in the movie. It seems every once in a while after a serious scene, Latifah comes in and says some sexually suggestive “funny” lines, but just doesn’t work. Once again, Latifah is fine in this movie, but it is the work of the writers that make it unfunny. I’m trying to save the actor’s from criticism because they are not the fault of this movie at all, but when a comedy isn’t funny the first thing people attack is the actors.

There’s a pretty violent scene in this movie that is meant to be funny, dark humor if you will, but it just doesn’t work! Almost everything in this movie fails to deliver. I am one who loves dark humor; it’s possibly my favorite kind next to vulgar humor. It’s shot very well, but when the actors say their lines, some of the lines sound too serious and then the next one will be humorous. Those two combined make the scene fall flat, and me more disappointed.

One thing that I love about the progression of the movie that I noticed was that Ryder’s character looked very attractive, hair down and nice, makeup and the whole shebang. But after Vaughn catches her cheating on James, her look changes. For the rest of the movie, except when she is with Zip, her hair is up, it looks like she doesn’t have much makeup on, and she seems much more strung out.  It symbolized how you would see a person after finding out that they’ve done something bad. The movie portrayed her in Vaughn’s eyes after the incident. I admired that and I think it is a minor plus to the otherwise mediocre film.

The Dilemma is not a very funny movie, which is unfair to the actors because the performances in the movie were solid. As a comedy the movie falls flat but as a drama it is interesting enough to not fall asleep during, although not enough to want to watch it again.

Critique: 4/10

Personal enjoyment: 5.5/10