The Dilemma

The real dilemma in watching Ron Howard’s new movie is not the one the characters mull over – whether a man should tell his best buddy that his wife is having an affair, which is obviously YES – but rather what to make of this noodle-scratching dramedy and the spectacular incompetency the veteran director exhibits.

There are bad movies, and then there are bad movies that force audiences to question the sanity of those involved. The Dilemma is very much the latter.

The premise is simple enough: while Ronny (Vince Vaughn) is scouting locations to propose to his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) he spots his best friend’s wife (Winona Ryder) pashing a younger, sexier man and discovers they’re doin’ the dirty. Her husband is, after all, the bloke who played Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Kevin James) but as Ronny explains – I’m paraphrasing – flab rolls and goofy comedies does not an excuse for infidelity maketh. Equally, there are no excuses for movies as lazily written as this.

The characters are surprisingly multi-layered given The Dilemma’s seemingly make-it-up-as-you-go storyline, a series of disconnected mishaps that lurch clumsily between comedy and drama.

Vince Vaughn’s central performance is likable, even endearing. The man can carry a scene and his tall, hulking presence is literally the human height of the movie, but his characters and others are continuously placed in awkwardly contrived environments with emotions as confected as a box of grape flavoured nerds.

The actors try valiantly to make it work (Jennifer Connolly, what are you doing here?) but  struggle at every turn against asinine plotting and iffy dialogue. There is a fleeting reference early on to the protagonist’s previous gambling affliction and BAM! – the last act depends on it. A sub-plot involving the two best buds developing a revolutionary car engine falls completely flat. And a final “inspiring” speech involving Kevin James and a hockey stick is woeful, vomit bag stuff.

The Dilemma’s Australian theatrical release date: January 13, 2010.

Get more Crikey, for less

It’s more than a newsletter. It’s where readers expect more – fearless journalism from a truly independent perspective. We don’t pander to anyone’s party biases. We question everything, explore the uncomfortable and dig deeper.

Join us this week for 50% off a year of Crikey.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
50% off