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01/14/2011

There's no real 'Dilemma'; stay away

The next few may not be happy days for Ron Howard.

"The Dilemma," an unfunny buddy comedy teaming Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, is a clunker.

The only joy -- and it's minute -- comes from watching some decent actors work.  Vaughn can carry a comedy given a fair chance.  Unfortunately, he doesn't get one here.

James?  Frankly, I'm cooling on the former TV sitcom star ("King of Queens") as a viable big-screen force.

The women fare better in supporting roles.  Jennifer Connelly, an Oscar winner for "A Beautiful Mind" in 2001, provides a steady presence as Beth, Vaughn's live-in girlfriend.

The brightest force in an otherwise dismal visit to the movie house, however, is provided by Winona Ryder as Geneva, James' wife with wandering eyes.

Ronny (Vaughn) and Nick (James) are pals since college who design automobile engines.  They have a big deal with Chrysler working if they can dodge  serious bumps in their personal life highway.

That's not so easy.  Ronny is a recovering gambling addict.  When he catches Nick's wife cheating on his best pal, Ronny's crisis over whether to spill his guts to his best friend is misunderstood by those around him as a retreat to his old gambling ways.

If it hasn't occurred to you yet that this list of serious life obstacles might be a little difficult to milk entertainment yuks from, don't fret.  Howard, the usually fine and, might I add, Academy Award winning director ( "A Beautiful Mind," "Apollo 13"), may not fully realize it either until box-office returns don't exactly come rushing in.  (If they do, then my bad.)

"The Dilemma" is aptly titled for the very reasons described above.  I wasn't just bored.  I felt let down by usually reliable filmmakers and, frankly, in an unpleasant place much of the time.

Alsso, Queen Latifah fans should know that Ms. Latifah is only around for a couple of scenes.  So don't bother.

In Vince Vaughn-speak, "The Dilemma" is not money.  It's cinematic chump change. 

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