The Dilemma | Teen Ink

The Dilemma

February 2, 2011
By Drewp PLATINUM, Seattle, Washington
Drewp PLATINUM, Seattle, Washington
27 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Ron Howard’s “The Dilemma” is a buddy comedy, pure and simple. Though it’s not a buddy comedy in the way “The Hangover” or “Hot Tub Time Machine” is. The main characters don’t go on any crazy antics, or talk about sex while shouting the f-word every other remark. They act normally and deal with regular life problems. In the end that’s one of its strengths. It manages to find heart beneath its comedy and takes time to go through emotions without comic interference. Unfortunately, it’s a long dragging ride before the movie finds that core, and it’s not really worth it.

You know this is a buddy comedy because the central focus, the central relationship, is between two long time friends whose relationship will be tested through the hard times to come. The two buds are Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James). They are partners in an auto design firm and are on the verge of getting a big deal. Ronny is the tall, smooth talker, the salesman of the team. Nick is the short and fat one with the brain. They’re the usual duo in these kinds of films.

While Vince Vaughn is off playing his typical smug/arrogant character, James is trying something new. He has the reputation of playing the fat, clumsy oaf (i.e. “Paul Blart” and “Grown Ups) but this time he really steps up and plays an interesting, sometimes funny character, who’s not the sole provider of jokes. He’s not just Vaughn’s wingman; he is involved in the plot.

There are woman in this story but as buddy comedy rules apply, they’re either made out to be the antagonists or pushed off to the side to provide small uninteresting side plots that no one cares about. In this case the antagonist is Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder). One day Ronny catches Geneva cheating on Nick, with a younger man.

Now, as the title implies, Ronny has a dilemma. When and how should he tell Nick what he saw?

This is where the movie starts to spiral. Ronny becomes less interesting than he was before, turning into a depressed stalker determined to get proof that Geneva is cheating so that she won’t reveal a secret about her and Ronny from the past.

At the same time his own relationship with his girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connolly) begins to suffer. In other words the uninteresting side plot. The movie runs its course and begins to meander down a predictable path. You know he’s going to tell Nick and you know all the fallout that will come as a result. You just wish he would do it right now and have the movie end.

And for being a buddy comedy “The Dilemma” wasn’t that funny. Sometimes there would be dark, conversational humor followed by sitcom, slapstick humor. Like when Ronny goes to the botanical garden and falls into a gap of poisonous planets. He is hassled by a plant expert (a useless cameo provided by Howard’s brother Clint Howard) and receives a rash and later on has trouble urinating. Really? Ron.

Eventually the movie gets back on course but by then it has been going on for so long you’re too exhausted to take the emotion in to heart. And even with the emotion the movie still leaves you feeling empty and untouched.

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