Here’s a dilemma for ya: How do you tell Ron Howard that he no longer has any clue when it comes to comedy? Sometimes I forget how many great movies he made 25 years ago. Yes, THAT long ago.
Here’s a dilemma for ya: How do you tell Ron Howard that he no longer has any clue when it comes to comedy? Sometimes I forget how many great movies he made 25 years ago. Yes, THAT long ago. Remember Night Shift? How about Splash, and Gung Ho? Everybody loves Willow, and even Parenthood was pretty good. Then he made Backdraft and it’s like Howard turned his back on good, funny film making. Then it was all Far and Away, Edtv, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The DaVinci Code nonsense. Even the couple of decent movies he made post Backdraft are just average. And I can assure you that his new film, The Dilemma, is not even that.
The premise? IMDB has the best description: A man discovers his best friend’s wife is having an affair. Yep, that’s it. And that’s really all there is to say about it. The rest is illogical reasons to NOT tell your friend about it. But if you found that out, what would you do? TELL HIM. Well, what if your best friend is also your business partner and you have a big presentation to give that will make or break your careers? TELL HIM. What if your friend is a really nervous guy and has ulcers? TELL HIM!
See, you just fucking TELL HIM his wife is cheating. Wouldn’t YOU want to know, regardless of everything else? It’s part of what being a friend is all about. This isn’t some fantasy genre film. It’s based in reality. But still, they play up the whole “should I tell him” angle with all sorts of illogical, goofy doubt.
This comedy is remarkably free of laughs. Vince Vaughn (as Ronny, the friend that witnesses the infidelity), has some charm and improv skills, but he’s not really leading man material and yet Ron Howard essentially forces him to be. Kevin James plays Nick, the ulcer-prone best friend whose wife, Geneva, is cheating. And she is played by a weirdly alien-ish/Gollum-esque, Winona Ryder. I’m sorry to say, the days of her luminous, Age of Innocence beauty are over. She’s looking kinda freaky. And she’s really stiff and unbelievable here. Haha..sorry, I just imagined if her role was actually played by Gollum. Now THAT would have been an awesome movie!
Due to the quandary (such a better word than “dilemma”) Ronny has of deciding to tell Nick about his wife, Ronny begins to act really weird and his girlfriend and others are getting concerned. Frankly, I’d be concerned immediately if I read this script , then found out Ron Howard wanted to direct it. “Ron Howard is attached? Really? …What’s up; has he been black-listed or something? Can’t he pick what he wants to do anymore? Well, ok, I’ll do it.” It really makes this even worse a film because Howard is at the helm. If it had been Jay Roach, or Dennis Dugan (Adam Sandler movies), I might understand. But this is just vexing.
There’s a would-be great scene where people stage an intervention for Ronny’s gambling problem due to some mis-interpreted things seen and heard, a-la Three’s Company. Of course Ronny hasn’t gambled in years, but all the Mr. Furley’s are concerned. (Damn, Mr. Furley should have been in this, too!) Now, normally this could be a great scene if handled right. So ripe for some great farce or wackiness. All these people, including Nick and Geneva and even the guy Geneva was cheating with, are in this group. The possiblilities of hilarity are bulging at the seams! And yet, Howard chooses to shift gears and get serious on us. The funny is played WAY down and the drama of the situation is put to the forefront. What are you thinking, Ronnie? WHAT? Honestly, almost every Three’s Company “misunderstanding” was funnier than this. Of course, no one in The Dilemma is as talented as the great John Ritter was and I still mourn our loss of him. But clearly Ron Howard is WAY rusty on the comedy thing.
Jennifer Connelly is wasted in this even though she is by far the best in it. Kevin James is, well, Kevin James. Clint Howard is present, of course, because it pays to be the directors brother. He has such a good thing going. Yay, Clint! And as we established earlier, Winona Ryder is a stiff, girly Gollum. Queen Latifah offers some weird, TMI stuff about “lady wood” because she loves Ronny and Nick’s ideas at the presentation they give. That’s all she does.
I think I chuckled once in this movie. Once. That is not a good funny ratio for a comedy. You can pass on this if you were on the fence about it. Still not as bad as that Season of the Witch, so yes, Mr. Cage, you can rest easy that your movie is still the worst of 2011 so far. Giving The Dliemma 2 kittenhands is generous. But there you have it.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, really wishing both Gollum and Mr. Furley had been in this! SO would have been 5 kittenhands!