January 18, 2011

Movie Review: The Dilemma (2011)

This movie could have been interesting. It could have been dramatic, it could have been comic, it could have been shorter. Any one of those things, if actually worked at, would have made this movie better. In fact, replace "would" with "could" and you would be on the right track. On top of that, it is not recognizable as a Ron Howard film, save for the gratuitous Clint Howard cameo (and there is nothing wrong with a Clint cameo). In any case, this is a romantic/dramatic/comedy that dares to dive into the idea of how long it takes to know someone and the dangerous waters of giving your best friend bad news.

We are tossed right into it from the start with Geneva (Winona Ryder) throwing out the question of how long it takes to know someone. I am not sure there is a right answer to this and I doubt the movie knows either, although it certainly tries to figure it out. Over the course of nearly two hours, we are given a ringside seat as two couples are forced to examine their roles in their relationships, well primarily Vince Vaughn's Ronny, and if they have what it takes to do the right thing. Honesty is an important element in a relationship, Ronny tells me so during a lengthy toast. He might be on to something, too bad the movie wants to be everything to everyone.

That is the odd thing about this movie is that for what is advertised as a comedy and plays like a drama, it takes on some heady subject matter and the comedy holds it back from achieving any sort of genuine insight. It almost feels like they knew the movie was going to lean towards the dramatic side and had to time out the joke beats throughout.

Anyway, the tale centers on Ronny (Vaughn) who spies Geneva (Ryder) having an intimate moment with the tattoo covered Zip (Channing Tatum). The problem is that Geneva is married to his best friend, Nick (Kevin James) and Geneva is good friends with his girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly). Oh the decisions that need be made.

Ronny values his longstanding relationship with Nick and does not want to bring him undo stress at such a pivotal time. Oh yes, the two are in the automotive industry and working on a tight schedule to design an electric engine that feels and sounds like a muscle car powerhouse. So, on top of the relationship and infidelity issues we also have a green initiative sucking down screen time like a big block V8.

Sporadically funny, this movie hinges on none of the characters making logical choices. The Dilemma hinges on logic never entering the equation and Vince Vaughn going as far as he can in the opposite direction. Dramatic confrontations are interspersed with broad comedic moments as Vaughn stalks, breaks and enters, peeps, and other oddball actions as he tries to deal with the truth of the situation.

This movie really turned into a slog really quick. Most of the funny moments are in the trailer, so I was left waiting for them to pop up and roll my eyes at the highly illogical actions they are all taking. For a movie that very nearly hits 2-hours, they hardly get beyond surface scrapings. Not to mention that by the end not all of the threads have been dealt with.

Ugh. I see a good movie here struggling to get out, begging to be let out of its bi-polar prison. It asks to be a drama, it asks to be a comedy, it asks to mean something more than a vehicle for a weak genre mash. Yes, I did like Channing Tatum's emotional moments, Ryder's manipulative show in the diner, and how Jennifer Connelly escapes unscathed, but it's not enough to make up for so much drivel.

Not Recommended.

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