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Not the film it should have been.
on May 2, 2011
Let's face it: Finding your best friend's wife is cheating on him, and then trying to tell him (and then trying NOT to tell him), isn't funny. A great comedic director could take that situation and turn it around, make the serious hysterical. Ron Howard, alas, is not a great comedic directer. He's a pretty darn good dramatic director, however, which ultimately hinders THE DILEMMA.
The problem is, the film isn't funny. Even when it tries, which it rarely does. At moments, the film achieves a certain poignancy that is touching; it examines the crevices of the buddy-buddy relationship (in a much more serious way than, say Judd Apatow usually does), and hits some disturbingly harsh notes. What is most frustrating is that the cast (yes, even Kevin James) is up for the challenge: Vince Vaughn has proven himself a dramatic actor in the past, as has Jennifer Connelly. James holds his own; in fact, when he's at his worst when he's trying for yucks. Winnona Ryder delivers a solid, understated performance (as she did in BLACK SWAN). Queen Latifah is a bit over-the-top in her minor role, but Channing Tatum is surprisingly not; not that he's suddenly metamorphosed into a mesmerizing actor (his "emotional" scene opposite Vaughn makes the latter look like a true thespian), but at least he's trying here.
Allan Loeb's script is a bit two-dimensional, and Ron Howard's directing, as it unfortunately can be, is lazy; this film meanders, and never truly finds its place. It's not funny--I saw it in a packed (I know!) theater, and there were mostly groans--and it's not tender; it's uncomfortable to watch, but usually in the wrong ways. Occasionally the film strikes just the right awkward note, giving you a peak at the film it COULD have been. But then, who would want to go see a drama starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James? Maybe somebody should get that project started; both actors apparently have the chops to pull it off, and, if nothing else, they have pretty good on-screen chemistry.