Jen Yamato
The Dilemma Review

Jen's Rating:


A tiresome pickle.

Who's In It: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly, Queen Latifah

The Basics: Bromantic BFFs-slash-business partners Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are on the brink landing their dream client when Ronny catches Nick's wife (Winona Ryder) cheating with a hunky younger man (Channing Tatum). Ronny is paralyzed by his predicament: Does he tell Nick the devastating truth, or keep quiet until Nick can engineer the impossible car engine prototype upon which all their professional hopes lie?

What's the Deal: Like Vaughn's conflicted character, the film itself finds its way into a bind of its own making, unable to decide between two dueling identities. Is it a fast-talking PG-13 buddy comedy carried by its doughy stars' two-man act, or a domestic drama that aims for real talk when it comes to issues like gambling addiction, adultery, and betrayal? That The Dilemma bounces between the two tonal extremes is just one of its many problems; what's more troubling is how little we care about the obnoxiously chatty Vaughn and his agonizingly drawn-out moral quandary. To be fair, Vince Vaughn's just being Vince Vaughn and Kevin James is being Kevin James, but isn't Ron Howard supposed to be better than this? (Wait, don’t answer that.) If only The Dilemma were just a dumb comedy in which grown men who get hand jobs from masseuses and facial rashes from poisonous flowers and Queen Latifah refers twice to her "lady wood" -- scenarios happen in the film, isn't that fun? -- we could at least pretend it wasn't trying and failing miserably to be something more.

Who's Nevertheless Utterly Watchable: Winona Ryder, showing flashes of that sinister edge she briefly flaunted with abandon in Black Swan. As James' adulterous wife Ryder plays good, bad, and ambiguous with surprising, and surprisingly captivating, results. Too bad, then, that the script by Allan Loeb (he of the whitewashed blackjack drama 21 and the reprehensible reproductive rape comedy The Switch) completely sells her out at the end, failing to fully explore the only truly interesting and unpredictable character arc of the film in favor of ending the story by having one man punch another in the face before both reap every reward they ever wished for.

Unsurprisingly, Writer Allan Loeb Is Also Responsible For: The upcoming Jennifer Aniston-Adam Sandler rom com Just Go With It, in which a successful man uses his female employee to pull a Some Kind of Wonderful on a hot Victoria's Secret model type. Loeb also wrote the 2011 vehicle in which Miley Cyrus is a private eye who goes undercover in a sorority, so you also have that to look forward to.

Besides Winona, The Only Other Reason to Watch The Dilemma: Channing Tatum as the tattooed, pill-popping, gun-waving thug home wrecker. His best moments unfold in the ways you least expect them to, especially during his ridiculously long, aquarium-smashing, car-bashing, fist fight scene with Vaughn, and show more range and comic instincts than most might expect from the chiseled former model.


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