Keep in mind that Kevin James played Larry Valentine in the horrendous I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. In The Dilemma, Vince Vaughn plays Ronnie Valentine to Kevin James character of Nick Brannen and what could have been a smart film about trust, honesty and human relations devolves into some kind of misguided mix of comedy and emotion. Much like Seth Rogen taking The Green Hornet to a territory where it does not belong, the two slobs that are Brannen and Valentine just can’t be taken seriously in this dark and sometimes absurd indulgence. The usually reliable Ron Howard gave us The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, Frost/Nixon and even Mel Gibson’s Ransom. All those stories had production values that made them believable. But the cringe factor rises up too many times in this movie which could have hit it out of the park with a better script and a more believable approach.
The caring Vince Vaughn in 1997’s The Locusts was needed here, but that actor took a wrong turn in 1998’s failed attempt to remake the Alfred Hitchcock classic, Psycho. Remember Vaughn’s awful job of mimicking Anthony Perkins at the conclusion of director Gus Van Sant’s folly disguised as another look at author Robert Bloch’s masterpiece, Psycho?
Why go through the motions when the idea of The Dilemma contains more promise and opportunity than the result gives filmgoers ponying up big entertainment dollars these days.
Here the two out-of-shape leading men might as well be auditioning for the sequel to I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, and the real shame is that excellent performances from Queen Latifah, real-life kleptomaniac Wynona Ryder here cheating on her fat movie husband (and you would too if you had to choose between handsome Channing Tatum’s Zip or loser Kevin James’s Larry…I mean…Nick)…Jennifer Connelly as well as the director’s father, Rance Howard, and his brother, Clint Howard. The cast is tremendous, outside of the two lead actors, and Channing Tatum’s performance is nuked by what Vince Vaughn, Kevin James and director Howard bring to the equation. Connelly and Ryder are drop-dead gorgeous here and it is hard to conceive that they would be lovers with two outcasts, Vaughn’s borderline con-artist
Ronny Valentine persona and the stumble-bum/genius Nick Brannen creature who leaves the astonishingly pretty wife for nights at the massage parlor. Think about it, do 400 pound men exiled from The King Of Queens go to massage parlors when they could be home keeping Winona Ryder from shoplifting? It ain’t gonna happen.
I Now Pronounce This Nick and Larry is not the de-facto sequel to that previously mentioned bomb that director Ron Howard seemed to have on his mind. It’s an inside joke that goes sour and south right quick.
Re-imagine this with Vince Vaughn in a more serious role going after Chrysler for the big score, a Christopher Meloni type (he who loses the girl to Richard Gere in Runaway Bride) too busy working to keep Winona happy, and Zip (Channing Tatum) getting a more creative part in this mix. If The Dilemma were a true Dilemma it would have the makings of a great film. Instead, the best moment is when the film opens over a dark city and the Band’s remake of Marvin Gaye’s “Baby Don’t You Do It” sets the tone. It’s all downhill from there and all concerned should have known better. The real intervention should’ve happened in the director’s office when Ron Howard decided he wanted to be The Green Hornet’s Michael Gondry, both filmmakers releasing unrealized movie themes on the same opening
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.