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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Silly moments distract from a serious Dilemma

Jennifer Connolly, Vince Vaughn, Winona Ryder and Kevin James establish their relationships in the opening scene of Ron Howard’s latest comedy The Dilemma.
Photo courtesy Universal Pictures

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

The advertisements for The Dilemma indicate a bone-headed romantic comedy with a washed-up cast. If the expectations weren’t already so low, the film would be a lot worse.

The film begins with a foursome discussing how long you need to know a person before you can rely on them. The quartet consists of main character Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn), his girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connolly), his best friend Nick Brannen (Kevin James) and Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder). The four of them appear concerned only with business and relationship progress, but they are torn apart when Ronny spies Geneva with another man (Channing Tatum).

The movie becomes much better when thought of less as a comedy and more as a character study. Ronny’s titular dilemma, while some would think his solution obvious, is clouded by the growing stress of Nick’s work and Geneva’s startling revelations about their relationship. As his pressures mount and begin to threaten his own relationships, Ronny must sort out morality in a surprisingly mature and complex system.

The Dilemma supports itself with great subtlety. The principal character’s past relationships are heavily intimated, but only the parts relative to the present are spelled out. Camerawork and other underappreciated aspects of filmmaking are used expertly to project Ronny’s discomfort and eventual paranoia on the audience. Knowledgeable hockey fans will appreciate the accurate details of Chicago’s United Center.

Vaughn himself becomes a story as does Connolly. The pair, who normally demonstrate a supreme lack of talent, are in this film charming and deep.

Sadly, the character study aspects of the film are held back by the periodic insertion of five-minute breaks of immature humor. Ronny is constantly assaulted by minor characters, whose only purpose is to add a laugh or two.

Perhaps this was intended to give the audience a break in the film’s intensity, but it winds up giving them a break in the film’s maturity. Without them, The Dilemma wouldn’t be any darker than it already is, and frankly, these moments do nothing but break momentum. It will be interesting to see if a cut of the film is released with these moments edited out.

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