1.25.2011

The Dilemma

Based on previews for The Dilemma, I went into the theater expecting a Dodgeball-style quirky comedy.  While the film has some very funny moments, pigeonholing it into just one genre doesn't do it justice.  First off, the basic subject matter is much better suited to a drama.  Vince Vaughn and Kevin James have been best friends since college.  Vaughn's dilemma arises when he discovers James' wife (Winona Ryder) is having an affair.  Deciding whether to tell his best friend or wait till the wife spills the beans ends up leading to a full unraveling of Vaughn's life. 

It's a basic questions we've probably all thought about at one point in time - what do you do if you discover your best friend's spouse is cheating?  Or, on the flip side, would you want to find out about your spouse's affair from your friend?  Ron Howard's approach to this question allows us to see a different side of Vaughn and James, two actors who are traditionally thought of as comedians.  Howard is too great a director to let it just be a wacky comedy.  And while neither Vaughn nor James give an Oscar-worthy performance, both manage to stretch themselves and show greater range in their acting abilities.

Of course, the film has its shortcomings.  The subplot about the business deal feels a little forced - like it's sole purpose is to impose a time line on the more interesting personal dramas of the main plot.  Other than the four leading characters, the remaining supporting cast is flat.  Queen Latifah looks fabulous, but serves the role of "funny one-liners" and not much else.  Same with Channing Tatum - flat, forced, and two-dimensional.  (He's attractive, I suppose, but why is this guy still allowed to make movies?) 

Overall, The Dilemma was an entertaining way to spend the afternoon but don't expect your standard Vince Vaughn comedy.
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