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January 14, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

The real dilemma that critics are facing in reviewing The Dilemma, starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, is figuring out what kind of a movie it is. Is it a comedy, like Ron Howard’s Splash or Parenthood, or is it a poignant relationship movie involving two straight male friends? Well, it turns out that it’s a little of both, and critics appear almost equally divided on whether anyone, least of all Howard, should have attempted to converge the two. “Despite bursts of hilarity and an A-list cast, this is a dark, difficult, weirdly existential film,” notes Amy Biancolli in the San Francisco Chronicle. Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times judges the movie to be “a complicated beast, requiring more layers than the sentimental romances of Howard’s early hits.” A.O. Scott in the New York Times argues that The Dilemma “is not entirely what it appears to be. It is less a macho comedy than what you might call a bromantic melodrama, an unabashed weepie with enough beer, sports, fistfights and cars to reassure the snuffling he-men in the audience that their tears are Not … well, you know.” And Kyle Smith in the New York Post concludes: “There is much to say about the love that, except in comedies, dare not speak its name — the kind between straight men. The Dilemma says enough of it to be interesting.” But the problem, some critics suggest, is that such a discussion is not the kind one expects from a film starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. And the movie is certainly not the kind one expects from seeing the trailer or the ads, some critics gripe. “Audiences deserve the truth going into director Ron Howard’s film,” writes Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. Scott Bowles in USA Today complains that the movie “jumbles scenes of physical comedy with those of real mental anguish.” Gary Dowell in the Dallas Morning News concludes, “Torn between establishing itself as a bromantic comedy or a relationship potboiler, the movie meets the requirements of neither.” And Bruce DeMara in the Toronto Star calls the movie “a strange hodgepodge of angst, slapstick and bad dialogue.”