The only “Dilemma” the new Vince Vaughn comedy presents is how to recover from watching it. Most everyone in this film is a jerk or a rube, and nearly every joke has been made countless times before.
The opening scene finds Ronny (Vaughn), Beth (Jennifer Connelly), Nick (Kevin James) and Geneva (Winona Ryder) sitting around a dinner table discussing how well you can know someone. Here’s a better question: How did two attractive, successful women end up with a pair of slobs who are on the verge of bankruptcy?
“The Dilemma” confronted by Ronny in this uninspired tale is whether or not to tell Nick that Geneva is stepping out, which frankly is not a dilemma. Let’s be clear about this: if your best friend’s being cheated on, tell him/her. There’s an admittedly funny line about when the best time to drop such news might be, but it's the only entertainment value the issue provides.
Remember when Vaughn burst onto the scene in “Swingers”? Gangly, handsome, hyperactive— he was a one-man charm offensive. Sure, he was grating, but he made it work. Somewhere along the way he lost his mojo and now seems content to make bad romcoms about crappy relationships (see: “Wedding Crashers,” “The Break-Up,” “Couples Retreat”). Maybe now that he’s happily married in real life, he can move on.
Not only is Ronny angry with Geneva for cheating on her man, but he also manages to make a villain of Beth, who is a saint in this film. If Ronny’s got any reservations about marrying her, they can only be predicated on the self-esteem issues that keep her with a man so beneath her. Honestly, what the hell is Jennifer Connelly doing in this film? Hopefully it’s freeing her up to do more interesting work.
How bad is “The Dilemma”? Channing Tatum gives far and away the best performance in the film, as Zip, the man with whom Geneva is cheating on Nick. Tatum brings the crazy, as a dopey rocker who feels a little too deeply. He’s the only one in the film who appears to even be trying to enjoy himself.
There was a time when Ron Howard made slightly demented and joyous comedies, like “Night Shift” and “Gung Ho,” that had their limitations, but were at least kinda fun. Then he transitioned to more adult fare with “Parenthood,” which was a reasonably smart, semi-serious comedy about the challenges of family life. In “The Dilemma,” he can’t settle on the tone he’s after, shifting from dopey romp to drama to romcom, the whole thing littered with sophomoric humor. It doesn’t work.
The only good to come out of “The Dilemma” is the cash infusion enjoyed by the great rock duo The Black Keys, who have two songs featured on the soundtrack, thereby ensuring their financial stability for at least a couple more albums. Otherwise, “The Dilemma” is an exhaustingly trite, unfunny, vaguely misogynistic noncom that has bad answers for stupid questions.