The Dilemma Review
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Ron Howard is a Hollywood icon—a well-known child star turned Oscar-winning director. He’s starred in and directed a number of classics (as well as a couple of not-so-classics). But how he went from Frost/Nixon and Angels & Demons to a January loser like The Dilemma is anybody’s guess. Then again, I suppose that, during a recession, even critically-acclaimed directors have to look for ways to make a buck.

In The Dilemma, Vince Vaughn and Kevin James pair up as best pals and business partners Ronny and Nick. Single Ronny has always admired the relationship that Nick has with his wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder)—and he hopes that he’s found something similar with his girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly). As he’s preparing to propose to Beth, though, Ronny sees Geneva with another man—and he can’t decide whether to tell Nick or keep it quiet (especially until he finishes the huge project he’s working on).

Of course, the situation soon spins wildly out of hand. Ronny tries to single-handedly fix the problem and do what’s best for his good friend, while his secrets, lies, and erratic behavior make Beth wonder if he’s returned to his old vices.

For the most part, The Dilemma is exactly what you’d expect. It’s the same tired old story about a secret / misunderstanding that wreaks havoc on a character’s relationships. In fact, it’s all so formulaic and clichéd that you’ll be able to predict each move before the character makes it.

Meanwhile, the stars phone in their performances, playing the same characters they’ve been playing for years. James is the same bumbling fat guy (though, this time, he’s also an engineering genius). And Vaughn is the same fast-talking salesman type who just never shuts up. It’s mildly amusing for a few minutes—but then the same old shtick gets old again, and the story takes an exhausting turn.

Though it’s supposed to be a guys’ movie about lifelong buddies who love women and hockey and muscle cars, The Dilemma is more melodramatic and touchy-feely than the average chick flick. Ronny and Nick act more like the women of Desperate Housewives than a couple of car guys—and they spend a surprising amount of time talking about their feelings. Even Geneva’s tough, tattooed boyfriend, Zip (Channing Tatum), is—deep down—just a “sensitive” (read: “whiny”) guy.

Actually, the most masculine character in the entire movie is Queen Latifah’s automotive exec Susan Warner—a completely unnecessary character whose ridiculous dialogue will make most audience members cringe.

The real dilemma, then, is trying to find an audience that would actually appreciate The Dilemma. It’s clearly supposed to be a kind of bro-mantic comedy—but the comedy is weak, and the bros are often so moody and hypersensitive that it all feels about as masculine as an episode of Oprah.

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