The Dilemma Ron Howard

The Dilemma Ron Howard
Vince Vaughn and Kevin James stand side-by-side against an empty white backdrop on the DVD box of The Dilemma, staring at the prospective purchaser with smirking demeanours that scream, "Yeah, we're in a comedy. What else you need to know, bub?" Criticizing photo-shopped images of movie stars on DVD boxes is, admittedly, a losing battle, but I daresay there's something a tad arrogant about their cockiness. Apart from stating that it is "A new comedy from Ron Howard" and that one Jami Philbrick (of movieweb.com) believes it's "Hilarious!," the box provides no clues as to what The Dilemma is, assuming that our collective goodwill towards the wedding crasher and mall cop will inspire us to fill in the blanks that the film is a wacky assemblage of bro-ish tomfoolery. Nothing in the film's publicity materials suggests what the premise might be, which is understandable ― think of the marketing challenges: Vaughn and James are best friends and business partners on the verge of landing a big deal when Vaughn discovers that James's wife (Winona Ryder) is cheating. Worried that telling James could jeopardize their relationship, both personally and professionally, Vaughn instead becomes obsessed with the affair, spying on the "other man" (Channing Tatum) and discovering that James secretly patronizes a rub-n-tug after work. Vaughn's obsessive and secretive behaviour leads his girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly) to suspect he's relapsed into a gambling addiction. This is pretty sordid stuff for a mainstream buddy comedy with two of the genre's biggest and schlubbiest stars, and it must be said that The Dilemma is, intentionally, not very funny ― Ron Howard directs it as a creepy drama for long stretches. Does the film "work," either as a comedy, drama, thriller or hybrid? Not really. The Dilemma is a tonal mess, with the psychodrama jarring awkwardly with mechanical attempts at broad comedy, like Queen Latifah as a car industry supervisor who tells our heroes, "I wanna have sex with your ideas!" For Ron Howard, whose work is usually pleasant but formulaic, trying something this strange and risky is almost admirable, but his method of directing dark comedy is to segregate the darkness and comedy. Still, the film is strangely watchable, mostly thanks to Vaughn, whose jittery presence fits neatly into both the comedic and dramatic scenes, lending this ungainly film something resembling coherence. Vaughn has become typecast as an overgrown frat-boy, but The Dilemma serves as a reminder that he was once considered an odd enough presence to be cast as Norman Bates. Perfunctory DVD extras include a making-of, deleted scenes and a gag reel. (Universal)