Dilemma, The


Presenting Vince Vaughn as…Vince Vaughn

Main Cast: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder, Jennifer Connelly

Director: Ron Howard

I like a good buddy comedy.  I also generally like Vince Vaughn and Kevin James.  Thus I was hoping to like their joint venture The Dilemma.  Thanks for dashing my hopes, guys.

The Dilemma introduces us to Ronny (Vaughn) and Nick (James) and their respective partners – Ronny’s girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly) and Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder).  Ronny and Nick are best friends and business partners on the verge of either entering the big time in their specialized field or falling flat on their faces.  They’ve been friends since college and their lives are completely intertwined.  As Ronny ponders his future with Beth he discovers a secret that could ruin his business, his friendship and his relationship.  As the partner who does the fast talking he tries to fix everything.  He fails.

The premise here isn’t too bad.  Ronny does get put into a very delicate and unenviable position through no fault of his own.  The questions he poses to himself are reasonable.  We understand his dilemma.  The problem is that director Ron Howard lets Vaughn spin into being nothing more than Vaughn.  There’s so little to the character of Ronny that we haven’t seen dozens of times before from Vaughn that it gets tedious and irritating very quickly.  Sure, there are some funny bits of Vaughn schtick in here, but we never for a single second forget that Ronny is Vince Vaughn.

James fares slightly better.  Given permission to deviate from his hapless schlub persona from Hitch, he does a nice job as the tense, self-doubt ridden technical genius.  Nick is more complicated than Ronny, he’s got more substance as a person and a character – Ronny is all talk, Nick is the one with the goods.  James balances the aspects of Nick quite well, teetering between anxiety attack, experienced married man and keeper of his own secrets.

The women don’t have a lot to do, especially Jennifer Connelly.  But she does look gorgeous – in shorts or an evening

Jennifer Connelly being gorgeous

gown.  Winona Ryder has a meatier part and she gets to show her fangs.  Her scenes with Vaughn bring out his best.

The most amusing surprise in this cast is Channing Tatum as Zip.  Zip plays a pivotal role in Ronny’s dilemma and Tatum is a complete surprise as the scumbag with unexpected feelings.  His scenes are some of the funniest in the movie.

Most of the time we’re just watching Vaughn flap his yap.  His monologues are too long, there are too many of them and worst of all, we’re expected to see him as something of a martyr.  Fast talkers don’t fit that role very well and trying to shove Vaughn in there is a mistake.

Despite some occasionally funny physical comedy, a good performance from Kevin James and a surprisingly funny turn from Channing Tatum, The Dilemma doesn’t have much going for it.  Their rental disc also contains no extras.  Oh, it has an extras menu, but when you want to see, say, the alternate ending or gag reel, you get a cute little message saying that special features are only available if you buy the movie.  Peh.  2 stars.

photos by Alejandro and David Shankbone

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