Movie review – A romcom with an identity crisis

2011-03-04 08:48

Film: The Dilemma (UIP)
Director: Ron Howard
Featuring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Channing Tatum, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly and Queen Latifah
Rating: 6/10

While on a jaunt in a different part of town, you spot your best friend’s wife getting it on with a toy boy. What do you do? This is The Dilemma Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) faces. His best friend is Nick Brannen (Kevin James) and his wife who gets a bit on the side is Geneva (Winona Ryder).

Ryder, who has been in Hollywood limbo since her shoplifting incident, seems to be clawing her way back from TV movieland. She played the slightly too old prima ballerina in Black Swan and here she tackles the tricky role of the cheating wife.

Society is so much harder on women who cheat, which is why this film is moderately interesting because it doesn’t make a pariah of the straying wife.

The disconnect with this film is the odd coupling of director Ron Howard (Angels & Demons, Frost/Nixon, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind) with the Vaughn and James duo, who between them have only a selection of moderately amusing comedies to their names.

The pair gains more out of the transaction than Howard.

Howard reins in Vaughn’s excesses, making sure he gives a relatively realistic portrayal of a man dealing with having the veil lifted on what he thought was the perfect marriage. The trouble is that this film doesn’t quite know whether to go for laughs or tears, making it a strange “push me, pull you” experience for the viewer.

Odd too is the addition to this film’s cast of Oscar winner Jennifer Connelly, who doesn’t have much to do as Ronny’s long-suffering, waiting-for-a-ring girlfriend. Queen Latifah gives a strange performance as a car-mad boss and torsolicious Channing Tatum shows that he does have a little comic range as Geneva’s toy boy, Zip.

The Dilemma’s better than any other Vaughn or James film, but it suffers from an identity crisis. With a better cast, it could have been a powerful drama with an interesting premise. With a different director, it could have been one of those farces that Hollywood trades in.

As it stands, it will probably disappoint both Howard fans and those expecting Vaughn and James’ usual schtick.

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