The Dilemma – Review


The Dilemma (2010)  

Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Vince VaughnKevin JamesJennifer Connelly

The truth might hurt, as the poster says, but so does this film!

In a way I should have known better, but in my defense I really wanted to go out and watch a movie tonight and it seemed like I had already seen everything else that my multiplex was showing. Ron Howard‘s latest comedy sounded like an easy watch for a Sunday night… How wrong I was!

This is one of the most misjudged film I have seen in a very long time and the possibly worse since I’ve started writing on this blog (I didn’t see “Vampires suck” last year, which I hear could have taken the crown).

The biggest crime of all, for a comedy of this kind, is that not only it’s just  un-funny (I probably chuckled once or twice at the most), but also it’s really boring. In fact I don’t even think it can be called a comedy… and yet it’s so superficial that it can hardly be considered a drama.

It has the longest introduction ever but I sort of decided to go for it anyway, hoping that the more time the film would spend setting up the scenes and its characters, the more engaging I would find it all once the “dilemma” would come.

Finally a good 30/40 minutes into the film (though it surely felt like a lot longer) the dilemma does arrive. Unfortunately that is almost the moment when I realized that the film was not going to improve and I plunged into complete boredom.

Everything about this film is wrong: Vince Vaughn’s monotone acting and his ludicrous religious moments, the pacing of the scenes, the lack of jokes and the complete misfires of the few that are actually there (the long speech at the 40th anniversary being the most glaring example of something which is supposed to be funny but fails on every level), the casting of Kevin James (who should clearly stay on TV) randomly paired up with Winona Ryder (never for a moment I believed that those 2 could have got married), the wasted use of Jennifer Connelly (she probably owed Ron Howard a favor from the time they did “A beautiful Mind” together: nothing else would explain why she should have taken this thin-paper part), and even Queen Latifah feels like it’s a character added in at the last moment, even on a half day re-shoot) because they felt the film didn’t have enough laughter.

What on earth happened to Ron Howard?!? I mean, only a few years ago he did Frost/Nixon, which I really loved and whatever you thought of A Beautiful Mind (over-rated Oscar bait in my view) at least it had a style and it felt as if it actually had been “directed” by somebody who knew what he was doing. Ransom was a fairly competent film too, edge of the seat drama/thriller (completely ruined by one of the worse trailer ever, which gave away 9/10 of the plot). Apollo 13 (which I haven’t seen in ages) was huge at the time and quite engaging. I even remember liking Cocoon back in the 80s (though I haven’t seen it since…).Despite all this he’s not the kind of director I would expect to see behind a comedy, but then again with Parenthood and even Edtv, he did prove  that at least he knew how to make entertaining light films… And after all, he was one of the forces behind “Arrested Development“, or was he? I’m beginning to doubt he was even involved with  the photocopying of the scripts in that series!

I’m not even sure Howard himself knew what kind of film he was making, as the film switches from bad slapstick to slow melodrama (a balance that as the New York Magazine noted “Perhaps the late Blake Edwards could have got right, but not Ron Howard”).

The general un-likability of the (potentially good) cast and the fact that this is a Ron Howard’s film makes the failure even greater.

I probably shouldn’t even waste anymore words on this.

The real dilemma for me was whether to give the film more than 1 star! In the end 4.5  will do.

4.5/10

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