Vince Vaughn has a new movie that opens this weekend, The Dilemma. I’m lucky enough to have friends with connections so I got to see it a couple of days early. I was pretty excited to see it, hoping that it might redeem Vince Vaughn from the calamity that was Couple’s Retreat. I have to preface by saying that I am a huge fan of Vince Vaughn and have been ever since Swingers in 1996. Granted, I didn’t see Swingers until 1998, but I quickly developed a huge crush on “Trent”. How sad it is to see a heart throb from only 14 years ago grow so frumpy and pudgy and saggy.
The opening scene for The Dilemma shows 2 couples having dinner together and philosophizing about whether or not you can really truly know another person. This scene created a cyclical series of reactions in me. First, I was sad because Vince Vaughn’s baggy eyes hardly resembled the beautiful-baby-loving man I crushed on a decade ago- he seemed so old. Then I felt like I could identify with the couples sitting around having intelligent conversations in a fancy restaurant and it made me feel pretty grown up. Then I realized that I was identifying with an old-looking bunch of grown ups having intelligent conversation in a fancy restaurant and that made me feel old. Then feeling old made me sad again. Seems like a lot to get out of a minute or two of a film, especially one that’s being touted as a comedy.
Let me clear this up for you: The Dilemma is not a comedy. If anything it’s a dramedy. I hate when movies get billed as one genre but turn out to be something else. Remember the trailers for The Family Stone in 2005 which looked so funny?
That movie left me crying for another 20 minutes even after leaving the theater. Thankfully, The Dilemma didn’t make me cry. I imagine if I identified a little more closely with it (ie. knew someone personally who’s marriage was in jeopardy because of a cheating spouse) it might’ve crossed that cry-line, but gratefully it stayed just slightly on the more comedic side of the dramedy probably due to the bromantic nature of it. There are quite a few hearty laughs, but just as many serious moments that provoke real emotion.
The plot is great fodder for one of those grown-up intelligent conversations I mentioned earlier: a guy finds out that his best friend’s wife is stepping out on him. Does he tell on her, or keep the secret to himself? There is hardly a right answer in the situation and the movie does a great job delving into the scenario while at the same time keeping it a little lighter with a sub-plot involving the lead guys getting ready to pitch their electric car technology to Dodge/Chrysler. In those scenes, Queen Latifah steals the show. Her “lady-wood” talk cracks me up.
It is a great cast and it’s nice to see Winona Ryder making a bit of a Hollywood comeback. She was viciously good in Black Swan too. Jennifer Connelly is true to form: both subtle and striking. Kevin James is Kevin James but he showed great range even if he couldn’t keep up with his co-star. Vince Vaughn hasn’t lost his appeal in the way his witty fast-talk is charming, nor his comedic timing… it’s only his looks that have faded. Channing Tatum steps out from his Step Up character but I still can’t take him seriously, even if I keep thinking he’s Josh Hartnett. That being said, playing Zip in The Dilemma was perfect for him. As I already said, Queen Latifah rocks. She should’ve been in more scenes. The whole cast plays well off each other so that definitely contributes to the success of the movie as a whole.
So, should you pony up the cash to see The Dilemma in theaters this weekend? Sure! It certainly could lead to deep conversations with whoever you see it with. Probably not best for a first date though. I’m not saying it’s the best dramedy of all time, but it’s a good movie and I happen to think director Ron Howard did a great job of balancing the feeling with the funny. I may have felt sad in the opening scene, but I definitely felt good when I left the theater.