ⓘ The Dilemma


ⓘ The Dilemma

The Dilemma is a 2011 American dark comedy film directed by Ron Howard, written by Allan Loeb and starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. The film follows savvy businessman Ronny and genius engineer Nick who are best friends and partners in an auto design firm. They are pursuing a project to make their firm famous. Ronny sees Nicks wife Geneva kissing another man. Ronny seeks out answers and has to figure out how to tell Nick about what he saw while working with him to complete their critical presentation.

It was filmed entirely in Chicago, Illinois. The Dilemma was released by Universal Pictures in the United States and Canada on January 14, 2011, to poor reviews and performed poorly at the box office, failing to recoup its $70 million production budget.


1. Plot

Ronny Vince Vaughn and Nick Kevin James are best friends and partners in a small auto design firm. Ronny is in a long-term relationship with his girlfriend Beth Jennifer Connelly while Nick is married to Geneva Winona Ryder. The two have recently been given an opportunity to pitch an eco friendly car to Dodge.

While at a botanical gardens planning a way to propose marriage to Beth, Ronny sees Geneva kissing a man named Zip Channing Tatum. He comes home upset, but lies to Beth about the reason, causing her to worry that the stress of work has caused a recurrence of Ronnys gambling addiction.

Ronny makes up his mind to inform Nick about Genevas infidelity, but puts it off after Nick expresses stress about their work. He meets with Geneva, who promises that the affair is over and that she will tell Nick as soon as the big project is finished. Ronny subsequently discovers her and Zip continuing their relationship. Geneva then threatens to accuse Ronny of hitting on her and tell Nick about a fling they had back in college.

Ronny follows Geneva to Zips house and photographs the two of them together but becomes trapped inside and misses his in-laws anniversary party. Ronnys increasingly erratic behavior leads his friends to think that he has begun gambling again. They hold an intervention for him but Ronny explains the truth behind his actions and Geneva admits to the affair. Later, Nick and Ronny have their design accepted by Dodge and Ronny proposes to Beth.


2. Cast

  • Clint Howard as Herbert Trimpy
  • Queen Latifah as Susan Warner
  • Chelcie Ross as Thomas Fern
  • Amy Morton as Diane Tutin
  • Kevin James as Nick Brannen
  • Channing Tatum as Zip
  • Winona Ryder as Geneva Brannen
  • Talulah Riley as car spokesmodel
  • Jennifer Connelly as Beth
  • Vince Vaughn as Ronny Valentine

3. Production

The Dilemma is directed by Ron Howard and written by Allan Loeb. The film was Howards first comedy film since he directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2000. The film was first announced in January 2010 as an untitled project when actor Vince Vaughn signed on for a starring role. The premise was conceived by producer Brian Grazer, Howards production partner at Imagine Entertainment; Loeb wrote the script. Actor Kevin James was cast alongside Vaughn in February. The film continues "Vaughns interest in tackling the dark areas of relationships", following The Break-Up 2006 and Couples Retreat 2009. The darker moments of the latter film were omitted from the final edit.

With a budget of $70 million, filming took place entirely in Chicago, Illinois, from late May 2010 to mid-August 2010. The film, which was called Cheaters and What You Dont Know during production, was ultimately titled The Dilemma by Universal.


4. Language in advertising

When Universal released the trailer for The Dilemma, the studio drew complaints about the pejorative use of "gay" in Vaughns line in the trailers opening scene, "Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay." Universal said it contacted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation GLAAD about the line before the trailer was released, and GLAAD said the step indicated the studio knew the line was problematic. Universal received complaints when the trailer appeared online before in theaters, and the studio sought to work with GLAAD to prepare a new trailer. Before action was taken, the line was first publicly criticized by journalist Anderson Cooper in a story about gay bullying on his show Anderson Cooper 360°. Universal and GLAAD disputed each others actions toward remedy, and GLAAD requested for the trailer to be removed and for the line to be removed from the film itself. Ultimately, the studio released a new trailer without the offending line. Universal deferred to Howard, who had final cut privilege, to decide about removing the line from the film, and the director chose to keep it. Howard supported the removal of the line from advertising, but he justified his decision to keep it in the film, saying, "If storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong-armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought."


5.1. Release Theatrical run

The Dilemma had its world premiere in Chicago on January 6, 2011. The film was commercially released in 2.940 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 14, 2011. It grossed a four-day total of $20.5 million over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekend, ranking second at the box office after fellow opener The Green Hornet. Prior to The Dilemma s release, Variety reported that with The Green Hornet attracting young people, The Dilemma was expected to serve as counterprogramming, attracting people 25 years old and up. Universal had expected the film to gross in the mid-teen millions. Exit polling showed that 60% of the audience was female and that 58% were 30 years old and up. According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a "B" grade. While adult audiences generally shy away from films opening weekends, The Dilemma performed above the studios expectations. The Dilemma also opened in four territories outside the United States and Canada, grossing $1.8 million. The films opening in Australia grossed $1.4 million despite floods in Queensland and in Victoria affecting 14% of the areas theaters.

The Dilemma s opening was a relative low for the films stars. Vaughns previous films Couples Retreat 2009 and Four Christmases 2008 grossed twice The Dilemma s amount on their opening weekends. James had appeared in Grown Ups 2010 and Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2009, both of which also had stronger openings. According to Box Office Mojo, The Dilemma was weakly advertised, especially compared to The Green Hornet. It reported, "Blink-and-you-miss-them television ads failed to convey the premise or provide laughs. Dilemmas premise of a man learning his friends wife is cheating and debating whether to tell the friend or not wasnt much of a dilemma, and it wasnt as comedically charged as Vaughns other relationship comedies."

The film grossed $48.4 million in the United States and Canada and $21.7 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $70.2 million.


5.2. Release Critical response

Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 24%, based on 161 reviews, with a rating average rating of 4.34/10. The sites consensus states: "It boasts a likable cast and an interesting premise, but The Dilemma cant decide what to do with them; the result is an uneven blend of cheesy slapstick and surprisingly dark comedy." Metacritic gives the film a score of 46 out of 100, based on 32 critics, "mixed or average reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B on scale of A to F.

Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times wrote: "What The Dilemma ultimately does best is create a platform for Vaughn to drag that iconic character of his into full-blown adulthood." Justin Chang of Variety wrote: "Not a particularly funny movie. Indeed, the true dilemma of this misguided seriocomedy lies in the filmmakers confusion as to whether theyre making a side-splitting bromance nope or an unsparing, warts-and-all look at screwed-up relationships sort of." David Edelstein of New York Magazine wrote: "Perhaps the late Blake Edwards could have found a balance between slapstick and psychodrama, but Ron Howard cant get the pacing right, and Allan Loebs script is even wordier than the one he wrote for "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."


5.3. Release Home media

The DVD and Blu-ray was released on May 3, 2011, in the US. It made $6.521.426 from DVD sales.

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