Ron Howard’s latest film reminds us that honesty is the best policy. If that’s the case, and as hard as it is to come out with it (knowing it might hurt a few people – be it those involved in the production or a publicist hired to stump the film), I’ll just come out and say it :
”The Dilemma” is shit. Shit smeared in a pretty glaze, but still…Shit.
I don’t mind Ron Howard’s films – well, I did like them… right up until Opie lost a grasp on the cinemagoers needs. The actor cum filmmaker made some great films early on (only a couple of years fresh from retiring as an actor on ”Happy Days”), some really solid stuff, remember ”Splash”? ”Cocoon”? ”Working Class Man” (aka “Gung Ho”)? “Backdraft”!? (I how I love thee! “That’s my brother!“. Tears every time). What came next though? Anyone remember? No? It doesn’t really matter (for the record it was ”Far and Away”, the schmaltzy Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman drama) anyway, what matters is that Howard hasn’t really grown as a filmmaker; if anything, he’s got lazier.
The problem with some of Howard’s latter films – be it ”The Da Vinci Code” or ”The Missing” – is that they feel too much like movies. You know what I mean? I like to be immersed in a story, I like to feel as if I’m watching characters on screen rather than actors, what I don’t like is feeling like I’m watching a movie.
Vince Vaughn and Kevin James play best mates, also partners in an electric car biz, whose home lives with girlfriend Jennifer Connelly and wife Winona Ryder, respectively, is picture perfect…. or at least it seemed so. When the tall one catches the fat one’s wife playing tonsil hockey with a young tattooed looker (Channing Tatum) he near has a stroke, but can’t tell his friend that his wife is being unfaithful. That’s the whole ‘Dilemma’.
There’s not a moment in ”The Dilemma” that I didn’t felt I was watching anything other than some handsomely paid actors (and Clint Howard) doing a jig for the audience. Wanna know how real the story plays here? I smelt cigarette burns.
It’s a real pity too, because here’s a film that could’ve had real potential: the storyline is intriguing enough, there’s some good talent involved (Winona Ryder is giving it her all; unfortunately this isn’t going to expunge the ‘shop lifter’ stigma that’s been following her around since that unfortunate incident), the usually-solid Allen Loeb wrote the screenplay, and Ron Howard is capable of making a good comedy – go back and watch ”Splash!” Or ”Nightshift”, there’s some sublime moments in those. It’s just all gone wrong though.
It’s hard to say whether Howard just can’t be bothered putting in the extra effort or whether he’s actually convinced – since rubbish like ”Meet the Fockers” and ”Couples Retreat”, which also featured Vince Vaughn (who is becoming rapidly laborious), made a mint at the box office – this is what audiences want to see, but one thing’s for sure, Milwaukee’s likely not flying the flag as high as they use to for Ritchie Cunningham.