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Motives and agendas in ‘The Dilemma’

By Staff | Jan 26, 2011

When is a good time to break bad news to your best friend?

Do you realize, too, how many lives will be impacted by the consequences?

Returning to relationship roots, director Ron Howard follows two electric car dreamers who have nearly sold their almost impossible passion into the “red zone” of one of the Big 3.

Stressing out over deadlines and performance targets, Nick Brannen (Kevin James) also has a seemingly rosy marriage that’s actually on the brink.

Shopping for his own perfect proposal venue, Nick’s friend Ronnie (Vince Vaughn) observes a chance encounter of Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) with another man.

Turning into a Nikon snoop, Ronnie soon has the evidence to implode the marriage. Calling “The Dilemma” a fun film would be blasphemy. Instead, it’s an upbeat, gut-wrenching examination of the “who, what, when and why” of alleged responsibilities that attach with strong interpersonal relationships.

As Vaughn’s countdown to decision continues, so also does his awareness of the unintentional uprooting of the male/female camaraderie balance within his friendship circle.

Aside from the middle-aged characters and no “potty mouths,” the premise would have worked as a Judd (“40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up”) Apatow project.

Of course, the maturity level of the teen/college age groups would not dwell on a politically correct expose’ time or inner and outer efforts to temporarily maintain the status quo compounded by manipulation and threats. Younger people would likely have blurted it out and posted it on Twitter in minutes.

Still, “Dilemma” has a broader intervention quandary — a good one for post movie watching discussion — inquiring of deeper examination of “truthful” motives.

Who will benefit from the timing of the revelation(s)? Are there hidden selfish agendas? For that matter, what other baggage will surface as the ‘truth’ spews?

Speaking of bad timing, “Dilemma” has Vaughn delivering a heavy dose of truth toast at the anniversary of his own girl friend’s parents. His intentional generalizations open more suspicious minds until a paranoia epidemic spreads even beyond the celebrants.