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There are several problems in ‚ÄúThe Dilemma,‚ÄĚ a romantic comedy about a guy struggling with a secret.
For starters, there‚Äôs the one to which the title refers.
Vince Vaughn plays Ronnie, an automobile designer in partnership with his longtime friend, insecure engineering whiz Nick (Kevin James from TV‚Äôs ‚ÄúKing of Queens‚ÄĚ). Just as they‚Äôre about to land a big, life-altering Detroit contract with their revolutionary idea---an electric auto that ‚Äúroars‚ÄĚ like a muscle car---Ronnie sees Nick‚Äôs wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder), in a passionate lip-lock with another man.
Should Ronnie tell the overworked, already stressed, blissfully clueless Nick, most certainly torpedoing their project in the process with the emotional devastation it would bring? Or should he keep his mouth shut, at least until their deal is sealed?
And Ronnie‚Äôs got other problems, too. He‚Äôs feeling the pinch to put a ring on the finger of his restauranteer girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly), who has trust issues stemming from Ronnie‚Äôs gambling problem---and who happens to be best friends with Geneva.
Needless to say, numerous complications arise, and most of the movie involves Ronnie flailing around in the mess his ‚Äúdilemma‚ÄĚ makes of everything.
Another movie might have gotten some real traction with this idea, but ‚ÄúThe Dilemma‚ÄĚ never settles into a groove, skidding recklessly between broad slapstick and deeper, darker, relationship psychodrama, especially when a confronted, cornered Geneva starts spilling some secrets of her own.
Director Ron Howard, usually a surer touch behind the camera, seems out of his element here, unable to bring anything into clear comedic focus. And it‚Äôs a problem when your supporting players---Queen Latifah as a brassy Detroit auto exec, and Channing Tatum as the hunky, tattooed object of Geneva‚Äôs affections---are far more colorful and interesting than any of your leads.
The movie also seems to be courting two very different audiences: guys who want a jokey buddy comedy built around cars and sports, and gals who‚Äôll hopefully relate to the serious romantic issue the plot raises: just how well can you ever truly know someone, even your lover or your husband?
But men will likely think it‚Äôs lame and too tame, and women will be turned off by the lack of any female character to which they‚Äôll want to relate. Connelly‚Äôs character, Gina, comes closest, but she‚Äôs relegated to a sideline role, mostly unnecessary to the story, and eventually benched completely.
By the time everything gets wraps up with a preposterously tidy bromantic bow, Ronnie‚Äôs dilemma is over---and, thankfully, so is this halfhearted, misguided stab at romantic comedy.