THE DILEMMA Review

Vince Vaughn has officially entered his safety zone. After three films in a row where he plays the middle-aged guy in a relationship crisis it is hard to think of him as the crazy young guy from "Old School" and "Dodgeball". It would be nice to see Vaughn attack some of the ridiculousness of past roles, but it doesn't look to be the direction he is heading in anytime soon. That being said, it may come as a surprise as the critics have generally been unkind to this film so far, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Vaughn and will stand up for him. This is easily his best film since "The Break-up" and he gives a solid performance as the honorable guy here. Come on people, cut him some slack, you can tell he throws himself into this one.

While the film co-stars Kevin James, this is clearly Vaughn's film. Which is a shame really, seeing as James is a gifted comic actor. His likability has not transferred well from TV to movies, and his turn as a somewhat workaholic stiff in this one doesn't help, but for the first time he does seem to be playing a real person. James' Nick is a multi-dimensional character who's shoulders the films climax rests upon.They advertised it as a buddy comedy, but let it not lead you on. This is a film about people trying to decide their place among each other. From the previews, you clearly know the premise, but director Ron Howard and writer Allan Loeb, who also wrote last years under appreciated and decidedly different rom-com "The Switch", take this in some different directions than you may expect. What I enjoyed about the film and what made it better than the average romantic comedy or buddy film is that it simply included more layers. There is a history between everyone and with each individual that fuels their thoughts on the current predicament. There is never any hard reason given for why troubles began between Nick and Geneva, and we are given but slight glimpses into Ronny's past gambling addictions. If anything, it is refreshing to at least see someone trying something a little different, mixing up the pot.

The film comes from a prestigious set of people. It isn't often you find Ron Howard doing a comedy, and to assemble a cast of mismatched Hollywood comedians and two credible actresses such as Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly only ups the expectations. Queen Latifah drops in sporadically to add laughs to the boys business side of the film and even Channing Tatum is tolerable in a few scenes, though he mostly seems to be trying to channel James Franco is "Pineapple Express".

In the end though, this is Vaughn's film and he certainly makes the most out of it. He makes the dilemma feel real, that it is truly tearing him apart inside and that he only wants what is best for his friend and the others around him. It is charming to see Vaughn in a ole that requires him not to be the ego-centric, fast-talking jerk, but instead the guy who is trying to do what he thinks is best and uses his persuasive talking skills to get through them. Vaughn is Vaughn, he doesn't try to become a different person or character. People may complain that he only does the same thing over and over, but if he were to drop that persona, they would no doubt dub it a bad call. What is a Vince Vaughn movie without Vince Vaughn? My reasoning can only be re-enforced by the scene in which Vaughn toasts his soon to be in-laws at their 40th anniversary party. It is a classic scene, and in a crowded theater you can hear people awkwardly laughing before letting it roll out completely. It is Vaughn at what he does best and though this is his highlight in "The Dilemma" he has more than a few moments.

What is disappointing about the movie is that, with all the talent attached to it, it simply should have exceeded the standard expectations much more than it did. I would have liked to have seen Vaughn and James in more scenes together, saying more funny things together, making us laugh more. That is how I was drawn in, and on that end, I was let down. It was presented as a broad comedy and it wasn't nearly as consistently funny as I would have hoped it to be. It deserved better jokes, though I must say Vaughn takes some serious beatings throughout the film and so at least the physical comedy was strong, especially the staged fight between Vaughn and Tatum at night.

"The Dilemma" is a fine example of a comedic drama almost. It is not what we expected and it cuts deeper than I ever thought it would, but as the credits rolled you couldn't help but feel a little underwhelmed. Not because of the performances, they deserve better than the audiences assumptions will allow. I expected better from Howard, more effort, more originality. It will do, it was better than expected, but nowhere near as great as it could have been.