'The Dilemma' Review: Promising Premise, Good Actors Wasted

Early on in “The Dilemma,” one of the main characters asks how long it would take before a person can really know another person. Considering that the character who asks that question is sneaking behind her husband’s back and having an affair, one would doubt if she knew the answer. However, the most important question in this film isn’t how long it takes to know someone. The biggest question is what should a person do if he finds out a secret that could destroy his best friend’s marriage.

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The man at the center of the story is Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn), a solid salesman who is business partners with his best friend Nick (Kevin James). Ronny and Nick are trying to develop a new type of car that would combine the sexiness of classic cars with the environmental friendliness of newer models. They are searching for a major car company that is willing to invest in their work.

Ronny is also thinking about proposing to his long-term girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly) and Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) enthusiastically supports the idea. It’s surprising that Geneva is so pro-marriage considering that she’s having an affair, a discovery that Ronny accidentally makes while planning his proposal.

After seeing Geneva with a rugged guy named Zip (Channing Tatum), Ronny must decide whether or not he should tell Nick about the affair. Aside from crushing his best friend’s heart, Ronny knows that revealing the truth would distract Nick from his research in developing the new car model that they are trying to sell. Throughout the story, Ronny tries to figure out what he should do about the “dilemma” he faces.

Unfortunately, Ronny spends most of the story digging himself into a bigger and bigger hole. Instead of making good choices early on, he makes stupid decisions and the story drags out the “dilemma” as much as it can. With very few twists and turns, the story meanders along leading to its inevitable conclusion.

Many of the choices that Ronny makes throughout the story aren’t easy to understand. Ronny is given numerous opportunities to be honest with his friends but he always opts against it. He isn’t even comfortable confiding in his girlfriend Beth. Even when she becomes suspicious, he keeps lying for no apparent reason. His remaining silent seems to have less to do with his character and more to do with the writers wanting to up the tension in Ronny’s life.

As Ronny, Vaughn does a solid job and is responsible for the few strong laughs that the movie offers. Unfortunately, the supporting cast isn’t given a lot to do. Queen Latifah, as an executive working with Ronny and Nick, is particularly wasted in a silly role. Even Kevin James, who did great comedic work on “The King of Queens,” doesn’t have the chance to show off his comic abilities in this story.

Admittedly, “The Dilemma” has an interesting premise and a funny performance from Vaughn. However, the story wastes a lot of the talented actors involved and it drags out with very few surprises. “The Dilemma” might be worth a rental when it comes out on DVD but it’s surely not worth the price of a theater ticket.

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