It's amazing that you can make a whole movie off of something that morning radio show hosts have been debating for decades. "If you caught your best friend's spouse cheating, would you tell your best friend?" That's the plot for the new movie from director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Angels and Demons) and stars Vince Vaughn, Kevin James (King of Queens, Hitch), Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind, Requiem for a Dream). What's going to fight this movie from the beginning is a horrible ad campaign. The poster is lame and just shows Vaughn and James as if this is another cliche buddy comedy of Vaughn's, only replacing his friend John Favreau with Kevin James this time around. It seems like any Wedding Crashers or Old School in the trailer with the hip pop song playing while slapstick comedy displays him falling into plants. Yes, those scenes are all in it, but that's not the tone of the film. It's better than that. This is a dramedy that carries a decent soul with it. It's gonna rock audiences when they see Vaughn and James start to cry in scenes that aren't meant to be humorous at all. Sure you'll hear some chuckles from people who are too uncomfortable to accept the silence, but they're not funny scenes. Because of that I liked it more than I thought I would. But because of that most people won't. Your casual moviegoer will be disappointed that the laughs don't come often and when they do, they come cheaply. The comedy aspects of the film flat out annoyed me at times. Queen Latifah appears in a small part that is meant to drive people nutty with laughs but her character is boring, pointless and void of humor. On the flip side, Channing Tatum (Dear John, G.I. Joe) is great as the small but important role as the "other guy." In the future, I'd actually like to see him do more comedy because he's good at it. I think the meat and potatoes of this film comes from Ron Howard. He's a great director who'd tackled lots of genres, but this is the first dramedy he's done in a while; not since 1989's Parenthood. Just like Parenthood, this movie is real quality but not great. He gets the adult situations, real life drama and human interactions right but the comedy and humor mostly wrong. The good news is that this film carries with it some great performances from actors that I would have guessed weren't capable of giving them at all or at the very least anymore. I'm happily wrong there. But the real dilemma for The Dilemma is whether people will accept their disappointment for it not being a true comedy and then move on and live in the drama. I sure hope so.
The Dilemma (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B-