The Dilemma

The Adults Are Not Alright

         
 

18 January 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Mixed, but tanks more on the low side by the second half. The Dilemma is Vince Vaughn’s movie. I mean, HIS MOVIE, where he gets to do his sarcastic beer-buddy thang. The only reason why it’s kinda watchable is because he’s so blustery and enthusiastic in the way he reacts to everybody. He’s always right and intractable because he’s a man. Is it recommended? It’s hard to say because I’m kinda in the middle. Sparky beginning, but it dissolves into unconvincing and, more to the point, into uneasy and downcast vibes. So it’s not altogether all that good. But true Vaughn fans will forgive all of that. When Vaughn is doing his thing, it might be easy to overlook the rancorous parts. There’s a scene that really pissed me off that involved a friend socking it to another. Kevin James co-stars and has some funny clumsy moments but just when you think he’s a sympathetic character he becomes sour grapes. Don’t we like him more when he’s jolly? The two of them play best friends who never withhold secrets, but now one of them is torn with whether to hide a secret. Let’s not spoil in this review which guy has to keep a secret although you might pick up a few hints.

Best friends since college, Vaughn and James are now in business together as well. They are trying to sell a new design electric engine concept to Chrysler Motors that can be wired to classic sports cars. In their relationships, Vaughn is attached to a girlfriend and near future fiancé played by Jennifer Connelly while the rotund but teddy bearish James is married to petite Winona Ryder (uh huh, odd casting but the chubby James always seems to be cast opposite a smaller woman). One of them learns that not all females are as loyal and innocent as they first appear. Does one tell a best friend that he’s being cheated on?

Approaching a best friend, especially when he’s feeling engrossed in his professional obligations, is harder to do than it looks. It’s also difficult to deliver sour heartbreaking news without clear and uncontested proof because without it, potential denial. This sets off a charade of attempting to interfere by other means by counseling the cheating woman, then endeavoring as an amateur spy with inept photography skills (why take three or four lousy pictures when you should be clicking dozens of them?), then battling the hunky but doofus lover played by Channing Tatum.

This turns into a somersault of increasing diminishing returns and mounting guilt for bottling a secret. The arc of the story is a build-up of sticky situations that suggests the message, that ultimately, it would have been better to tell a best friend the truth from the start.

The predicament starts out as a farce but then the tone of the film turns sour. Director Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Frost/Nixon”) makes a departure from drama into comedy, although in retrospect he directed comedies back in the ’80’s. But as professionally made as the movie is, he nevertheless cripples the mid-section of the movie by frankly not cutting fast enough. Scenes are too long and some of the jokes come in a beat too late. When you got scenes this long it’s no longer comedy, its’ sluggish melodrama.

Keeping it flighty and zesty is Vaughn, at least when the writing and directing exploits the best of his spontaneous herky jerky talents. He has a scene where he makes a toasting speech to a couple married 40 years, and the more he jabbers on the more self-serving the speech. His toxic but man-style incendiary rhetoric packs double-meanings that impose ill feelings between the anniversary couple. Vaughn isn’t really a character in this scene, he’s doing stand-up. But he’s funny at stand-up. The actor, not too long ago, founded and performed in “The Wild West Comedy Show,” a tour that lasted 30 days and 30 nights. Will viewers honestly mind that Vaughn abandons character while performing the toast?

Queen Latifah has a few scenes in this movie but she has nothing to do with the adultery story. She’s a boisterous rep for Chrysler Motors who likes Vaughn and James and can’t wait to sign them on. Boisterous is this actress’ modus operandi, and if you like liveliness you can’t get much better than her. But she’s here practically as an afterthought.

Connelly and Ryder are stuck somewhere between serviceable and implausible in their parts. Both women are in attendance during the final crucial truth-telling moment held during a group intervention meeting, hosted by an intervention professional rendered near speechless by the “drama.” The confessions go awry and are toppled by more unexpected hurtfulness and uneasiness. Subsequently to the story, the outcome of the Chrysler deal and a hockey match.

118 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

COMEDY / ADULT ORIENTATION / SATURDAY NIGHT AFTER DARK WITH A BEER 

Film Cousins: “The Woman in Red” (1984); “Fatal Attraction” (1987); “Bad Influence” (1990); “Town & Country” (2001).

 

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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