Director Ron Howard, previously adept at humor movies (“Splash” and “Parenthood”), takes a wrong turn here, possibly because of a misguided screenplay by Allan Loeb (the dead serious “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”). The basic premise is standard arrested-developmental males’ party and business bonding. The two leads have done this material multiple times: Vince Vaughn (“The Wedding Crashers”) and Kevin James (“Couples Retreat”). The hook in “The Dilemma” is revealed when Ronny (Vaughn) spies on the wife of his BBF Nick (James) smooching in secret with a tattooed biker-type.
What’s a best best friend to do?
Tell Nick, right? But that would bring the plot to a grinding halt.
As it is, the bulk of the one hour-and-44-minute film chronicles Ronny agonizing over his dilemma. The agony includes arguing with the philandering wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder); stalking and fighting the tattooed lover, Zip (Channing Tatum); and lying to his confused girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly), particularly during his awkward speech about the importance of “honesty.”
Vaughn’s patented motor mouth, stream of consciousness rants fill up most of the screen time, leaving little for James to do, except gape in disbelief. Queen Latifah is also there to be ignored.
It should be noted that the filmmakers make it clear that these bosom buddies are not “queer.” Auto designers, they make a pitch to Chrysler, with Ronny’s kick-off line, “Electric cars are gay.” Their angle is that they will not only bring the vehicle fuel efficiency, but muscle-car brawn and noise.
For a quality filmmaker like Howard, this dude is a dilemma.