Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content, 112 minutes
Dark and uneven, this "Dilemma" is no fun
The trailers for the new comedy "The Dilemma" feature a Maroon 5 song called "Misery" to describe the situation that Vince Vaughn and Kevin James are in. It could also very well describe having to sit through this wildly uneven, surprisingly dark and unfunny comedy that attempts to tackle some serious issues. What's worse, it wastes the talents of director Ron Howard, clearly slumming it here, along with an A-list cast.
Ronny (Vaughn) and Nick (James) are best friends and partners in an auto design firm. They are pursuing a project to make their firm famous. Ronny sees Nick's wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) kissing another man (Channing Tatum). Ronny seeks out answers and has to figure out how to tell Nick about what he saw while working with him to complete their critical presentation but could also cause some problems in trying to ask his longtime girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) to marry him.
"The Dilemma" is a dreadful and dreadfully unfunny dark and talky comedy with a couple of big problems First, the marketing campaign for the film is a bit of a bait-and-switch. It markets the film as a lighthearted comedy, and the film is far from lighthearted, fun or humorous in any way. Second, the film has the wrong director. Oscar-winner Ron Howard has been around for years, but Howard is clearly out of his element here, and he's ill-matched with both the actors and the material.
With that said, "The Dilemma" would've worked better with a director more suited to the material. The film goes back and forth dealing a myriad of relationship, friendship and marital issues, along with honesty and integrity personally and professionally. The subplot with the small business really doesn't belong in a film about relationships.
Vaughn and James do their best with the material, but don't expect another "Wedding Crashers," Vaughn's biggest hit that he has been trying to replicate with awful comedies like this. Vaughn tread similar ground with then-girlfriend Jennifer Aniston in "The Break-Up" a few years ago, but even that film, while hardly a classic, had a few more light moments. It only further reveals that Vaughn, while a likable comedic star, is growing annoyingly overrated and tiresome, which could also explain the film in a nutshell.
The film itself is also remarkably misogynistic in the treatment of its female stars, even the female characters who cheat. Oscar-winner Connelly and Ryder, both of whom are wasted here, are given second billing to their male counterparts though they have as much to do with the story as the men. Especially uncomfortable is the bizarre, unnecessary cameo from Queen Latifah, who pops in and out of a couple of scenes spouting dialogue like "I want to have sex with your words." Huh?
The unsatisfying ending in this overlong, dour dramedy may be "The Dilemma's" biggest sigh of relief, but only because the film is finally over. If you're going expecting a laugh-out loud comedy, "The Dilemma" is not it and definitely not worth your movie dollar this weekend.