Starring: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder
Director: Ron Howard
Running Time: 111 mins
The Dilemma is an American film about a man who discovers his best friend’s wife is having an affair, but wrestles with the dilemma of whether to tell him during an important period in their work.
Although not perfect, The Dilemma is a decent film. Featuring a fun central performance from Vince Vaughn, it’s got some good comedy throughout, and some excellent moments that bring the lighter side of the story at hand to the forefront brilliantly. Despite that, it really struggles with tonal consistency, often swinging wildly between a typical comedy and a pretty heavy-going drama within a few minutes, something that makes for a slightly frustrating watch at times.
Let’s start on the plus side, however, with the fact that this film is generally fun to watch. If you ignore the overly dramatic side of the story that really hurts it, this can be enjoyed as a simple enough Vince Vaughn comedy, and one with a couple of both likable and convincing lead characters.
And when it comes to the brand of comedy, it’s not as dumb as you’d think given the cast. Even though it’s not a masterpiece of modern humour, and never really makes you laugh out loud, its silliest moments are definitely light-hearted enough to make you smile throughout, and with a typically physical performance from Vince Vaughn in the central role, there are a good few laughs along the way.
The problems arise when the film gets a little too caught up in its story. In general, it’s a very engaging premise, and the dilemma that the central character faces between telling his friend about his wife’s affair or not is both convincing and well-explained. However, the film works far better when the comedy is the centre, and when the drama takes the main focus, it all becomes so much less fun.
And that’s not because it’s boring, but because it’s a real downer. Worsened by the fact that it swings into such an unexpectedly dark and heavy-going dramatic atmosphere so abruptly after a few fun comedy scenes, the film really struggles to keep itself together as a consistent story throughout.
With an almost frightening and totally out-of-place dramatic performance from Winona Ryder, along with a secondary story about Vince Vaughn’s character’s own personal issues (something that comes totally out of the blue about two-thirds of the way through), seeing things take such an insane turn towards the dark side is incredibly jarring, and really hurts this film from being a simply entertaining comedy.
Overall, I did like The Dilemma, largely thanks to its entertaining and light-hearted comedy that revolves around an enjoyable central performance from Vince Vaughn and an engaging story throughout. However, its exceptional shifts in tone throughout are incredibly jarring, and hints to some poor directing choices throughout from Ron Howard, taking away from the entertainment potential of the film as a decent comedy with far more dramatic darkness than appropriate, and that’s why I’m giving this a 7.0.