Blu-Ray Review: Vince Vaughn Stars in Inconsistent ‘The Dilemma’

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CHICAGO – It’s easy to write off bad romantic comedies like “Something Borrowed” or “Valentine’s Day” but Ron Howard’s “The Dilemma” lives up to its title for this critic. There are elements that truly work but the film is tonally inconsistent and features a few near-awful supporting performances. Ultimately, it’s a marginally successful film, an unusual movie that passes the time without being truly memorable. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

After a streak of truly horrendous offerings (including “Four Christmases” and “Fred Claus”), Vince Vaughn does his best work in years as Ronny, a man caught in a nightmare situation of friendship, commitment, and employment. He’s at a crisis point where ALL of it could fall apart if he doesn’t correctly traverse the thin ice on which he finds himself. He’s working on the career moment of his life with his partner & best friend Nick (Kevin James) while also considering finally proposing to his stunning girlfriend (Jennifer Connelly). It would be more than enough stress for any man but it hits code red when he spots Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) making out with a tattoo-ed stranger named Zip (Channing Tatum). Should Ronny tell his friend? Confront Nick’s wife? Keep it secret until after the business proposal is accepted?

The Dilemma was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 3, 2011
The Dilemma was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 3, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

Allan Loeb’s script for “The Dilemma” is its weakest element (which is becoming not much of a surprise from the author of “21,” “The Switch,” and “Just Go With It”) as it’s remarkably unfocused and inconsistent. Without a director as talented as Ron Howard to try and mold this mess of a script into something relatable and consistent, this could have been a complete disaster. Howard and producer Vaughn correctly recognized that this is material that needs to be taken somewhat seriously to work and so they treated the story with more drama than the goofy advertising may have led audiences to believe.

The Dilemma was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 3, 2011
The Dilemma was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on May 3, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros. Home Video

The dramatic touches make for Vaughn’s best performance in ages but they also lead to a somewhat inconsistent piece overall. “The Dilemma” can’t stay tonally consistent as it moves from over-the-top scenes like the one in which Ronny fights Zip to more intensely personal ones like the final one between our hero and Beth. Loeb’s script can’t quite focus, throwing in elements like Ronny’s gambling addiction and a last-minute potential move by Beth to Las Vegas that just lead to a film that feels cluttered overall.

And while Vaughn is effective, Connelly works, and Tatum nearly steals the film with just a few scenes, poor Kevin James and Winona Ryder simply don’t work here. The first doesn’t have the dramatic chops to make the stressful life of his character feel genuine and the latter over-acts from minute one. She’s not good here at all.

Despite its flaws, “The Dilemma” makes for a reasonably interesting rental of the “What Would You Do?” variety (especially for our Chicago readers…it uses the city beautifully). It’s a diversion on a Saturday night that may spark a conversation about the themes of commitment, friendship, and infidelity that serve as its foundation. Just don’t be surprised if the conversation that comes from watching the movie is more interesting than the movie itself.

The Blu-ray release of “The Dilemma” is LOADED with deleted scenes (over 45 minutes) and that fact alone (along with the multiple title changes) hints at a script that was never quite as focused as it needed to be (did Loeb expect it to be close to 3 hours long in its unedited form?) Most of the deletions were smart ones but it’s interesting to see that the movie could have been even darker (especially in its ending) than it ended up. The Blu-ray also includes a few featurettes and a mediocre gag reel.

Special Features:
o Alternate Ending
o Deleted Scenes
o Gag Reel
o This is “The Dilemma”
o Tour Chicago
o On Ice

“The Dilemma” stars Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, and Queen Latifah. It was written by Allan Loeb and directed by Ron Howard. It is rated PG-13 and was released on Blu-ray and DVD on May 3rd, 2011. content director Brian Tallerico

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