Reviews

Review: The Dilemma

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When Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) convince a major car manufacturing company to use their manly sounding engine for their wimpy sounding hybrid car they’re given a week to produce their demo product. Yes, the plot revolves around an engine rigged with advanced speakers to sound like something it’s not, though I’m sure there actually is a market for that with silly car aficionados.

Nick does all of the work and Ronny . . . well he doesn’t really do anything, and Nick oddly doesn’t seem to care. Ronny pesters Nick to do everything while Nick pesters Ronny to finally get engaged with Beth (Jennifer Connelly). While setting up secret wedding arrangements Ronny spots Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) kissing another guy named Zip (Channing Tatum) and from here you can probably write the rest of my review for me.

Read on to see what did and didn’t work, as well as Matt’s second opinion attached at the end.

When Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) convince a major car manufacturing company to use their manly sounding engine for their wimpy sounding hybrid car they’re given a week to produce their demo product. Yes, the plot revolves around an engine rigged with advanced speakers to sound like something it’s not, though I’m sure there actually is a market for that with silly car aficionados.

Nick does all of the work and Ronny . . . well he doesn’t really do anything, and Nick oddly doesn’t seem to care. Ronny pesters Nick to do everything while Nick pesters Ronny to finally get engaged with Beth (Jennifer Connelly). While setting up secret wedding arrangements Ronny spots Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) kissing another guy named Zip (Channing Tatum) and from here you can probably write the rest of my review for me.

Read on to see what did and didn’t work, as well as Matt’s second opinion attached at the end.{{page_break}}

The Dilemma isn’t much of one. It’s obvious that Ronny should immediately tell his friend what he witnessed, but the movie actually does a good job at convincing Ronny and the audience that it would be best to wait one short week until the deadline passes to fill his friend in since he’s already close to having a mental breakdown. Okay. Fine. So wait a week and tell him. Instead we see Ronny completely let his friend do everything while he only makes things worse. When he’s given an easy out to come clean about the whole thing you can be sure he won’t take it, because then we wouldn’t have a movie anymore, and it’s this restless process that we sit through until the end. It’s not painful like Little Fockers, but restlessness is far from a good description for a movie to own.

I do love Vince Vaughn paragraph tirades that are a single sentence, but it felt like a hostage situation where I had to give robbers a bag of my time in return for a few Vaughn scenes. For some of those scenes Ron Howard devised a cool recurring visual trick where we actually get to see some of Vaughn’s mental images as his loquacious explanations play out in his head, and we witness the flashback characters change their appearances to keep up with the revisions Vince makes to his woven tale. Sadly none of the later occurrences of this visual trick live up to the first time it’s used.

Surprisingly the funniest piece of dialogue didn’t come from Vince Vaughn, and we see Queen Latifah steal the best one liner in the film. Unsurprisingly, Channing Tatum was actually pretty good at his tough guy exterior but softy interior role – I’ve been following his work and he’s actually pretty versatile and worth keeping an eye on because I’d bet he hasn’t peaked yet.

Instead of use up the rest of this review to point out the large list of annoying or unsuccessful parts of this film, I think it’s worth point out how damn skilled Jennifer Connelly is, and to a lesser but still admirable extent, Winona Ryder too. Winona visibly has actually lost a lot of her sexiness but shows how easily she can turn her emotions on and off within seconds. Even more impressive is Connelly who looks as unfathomably gorgeous as ever and is given such a minimal role in this movie . . . yet gives a top tier acting performance as if she refuses to slack off on an easy role. To say it’s worth an award nomination feels silly, but damn can she extremely elevate any role she’s given.

I feel like I’ve said too many positive things thus far, so here’s a quick list of the negative stuff that’s not worth me spending much time on, and certainly not worth you spending your money on:

  • Bogus plot which means the weight of the movie rests on the funny dialogue, yet many Vince Vaughn speaking sprees misfire.
  • Kevin James sidekick character who is given screen time as that of a main character guarantees that not much of the movie is memorable by default — especially the lame ending gag.
  • Not enough Jennifer Connelly, and even Latifah is underutilized.
  • Some unbelievable dialogue and a funny therapist character whose faults should have been pushed further.

This is definitely a movie you should wait to rent.

Overall Score: 5.80 – Bad.(5s are movies that either failed at reaching the goals it set out to do, or didn’t set out to do anything special and still had many flaws. Some will enjoy 5s, but unless you’re a fan of this genre, you shouldn’t see it, and might not even want to rent it.)

Matthew Razak: 5.90 – Bad. While surprisingly not as stupid as it could have been, The Dilemma fails in most of it's attempts to do anything. Had it slanted more towards a darker comedy like it dips into every so often the film might have actually been interesting and good, but instead it careens between light-hearted jokes and serious comedy that just make it feel awkward. It has signs of life here and there, but nothing worth paying for.