The Dilemma (2011)

I’m not exactly sure who “The Dilemma” was made for. Allan Loeb’s screenplay seems to have been written with the aim of making a fairly serious drama about the challenges inherent monogamy and long-term friendships with some humorous lines here and there, which went out the window the minute Vince Vaughn and Kevin James joined the cast. The two of them seem to be leading a different movie altogether, and it doesn’t help that the screenplay keeps referring to James as some sort of engineering genius, when we don’t see any of that – what we see is James looking befuddled for a solid two hours, as though being intelligent means looking distracted. But really, we could look past that if it wasn’t for the casting of Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder as their respective spouses: Connelly is an Oscar-winning actress stuck in a thankless role as a grown-ass woman who apparently thinks Vaughn’s perpetual, overgrown adolescence is the height of masculine charm (because, let’s be honest folks, there’s nothing sexier than a bloated middle-aged man acting like an immature, obnoxious teenager…), while Ryder plays the whorish villain who dared to betray James… but the screenplay conveniently ignores that James has been cheating on her for some time, which is a thread that’s never resolved. Director Ron Howard seems to think the audience will be bowled over by Vaughn and James and adorns the movie around them with some of the best cinematography that money can buy (seriously, the movie looks like a million bucks) but it’s all for naught: Other than Ryder’s ferociously committed performance and a few hilarious lines by an underused Channing Tatum, there’s nothing to recommend here (and the less said about Queen Latifah’s embarrassing role as a bro-y, perpetually horny car executive desperate for the approval of these two buffoons, the better). The term “misfire” barely covers it.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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