The Dilemma

The poster for the movie “The Dilemma” states A new comedy from Ron Howard.  What’s ironic is that comedy is the genre Ron Howard used to get his feet wet and to start to separate himself as the actor he was known for, to go on to be the director people know him as today.  Movies like “Splash” and “Gung Ho” were great successes for the up and coming director.  Even “Cocoon” had plenty of comedic elements.  Then he went on to tackle more serious material like “Far and Away” and his Oscar winning movie, “A Beautiful Mind”.  It’s odd to see such a high caliber director have a movie open in January.  It’s been over a decade since a Ron Howard comedy.  Could he deliver another knock out punch?

The answer is no, he can not.  The main issue is that the movie is not that funny.  In fact at times it feels more like a drama than a comedy.  The movie doesn’t seem to know what it truly wants to be.  The basic story is that Ronnie (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Kevin James) are best friends trying to get a new business off the ground.  Nick is married to Geneva (Winona Ryder) and Ronnie is dating Beth (Jennifer Connelly).  Ronnie finds out that Geneva is having an affair and must decide if he should tell his best friend or not and if he does, HOW does he break the news.

Given that premise and the stars attached you have the makings of a classic comedy.  As with many things in life, all is not as it seems.  Relationships are complicated, whether it be between a man and wife or two best friends.  You can look at the movie and think “Well, of course, Winona Ryder’s character would cheat on Kevin James.  She’s hot and he’s fat.”  Shame on you for thinking in such broad terms!  No, there are bigger, more complex reasons behind the affair and the movie opens up a whole can of moral worms. 

Ron Howard, given his background, has a reputation of being a fantastic actor’s director.  While Vince Vaughn and Kevin James sometimes fall back on their old shtick, they have some moments in this movie where they have not gone to before as actors.  This movie can also be considered an “I’M BACK” message to all of Hollywood from Winona Ryder.  She has already grabbed some attention from her supporting role in “Black Swan”, but she really shows why she was an Academy Award nominated actress back in the 90s with her portrayal of Geneva.

If this movie was made to be a drama with some funny moments in it, we may have had a fantastic movie on our hands.  Instead the movie focuses on its many silly moments that try to get laughs, but earns very few.  The movie never feels right.  It is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and language.