Wednesday, January 19, 2011

At the Movies: The Dilemma


Martin Luther King Day found my mom and I shopping and going to the movies, as per usual. We settled on The Dilemma, which had opened that weekend, the only competition having come in the (weak) form of Country Strong.

The movie began promisingly enough. Two couples, Ronny and Beth (Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Connelly) and Nick and Geneva (Kevin James, Winona Ryder) are hanging out in a bar when Ronny asks, "How long does it take to really get to know someone?" (Ronny and Beth aren't married, Nick and Geneva are, and they've all known each other a long time). Nick says ten minutes because that's how long it took him to realize he wanted to marry Geneva. But Ronny disagrees, insisting that you can know someone for years and think you've got him or her figured out only to learn something new that changes everything. It's a compelling question. Nick and Geneva hit the dance floor, spurring Beth to ask Ronny to dance. He points out that great men don't dance, then recites a list that includes Martin Luther King in a well-timed holiday shout-out.

Unfortunately, the whole thing goes downhill once Ronny sees Geneva kissing a tattoo-riddled young punk named Zip (Channing Tatum) and begins obsessing over whether or not to tell Nick. Ronny is also trying to get up the nerve to propose to Beth but is confronted by commitment issues that are compounded by what he learns about his best friend, a scenario that made me think of that "Family Guy" episode where Stewie pokes fun at Vince Vaughn: "Oh, Vince Vaughn is on the cover of Entertainment Weekly. Here's my summary of every Vince Vaughn movie: Oh, I'm incapable of loving another person. Oh wait, no I'm not. The end."

For some reason, Ronny decides to spy on Geneva and Zip, which leads to a string of gratuitously violent events. (At one point, Zip brandishes a gun, all the while insisting that he's the "sensitive type." To be fair, he is pretty broken up when Ronny shatters his fish tank.) Clearly, this wasn't the light, romantic comedy I'd been expecting. It was dark. And not in the good, indie-flick kind of way, but in the potentially funny story gone horribly wrong kind of way. For a movie about honesty, it was awfully dishonest in its marketing. At some points I was so bored that my mind wandered to the metallic pink chain-strapped Guess handbag and metallic bow-adorned Paris Hilton pumps I'd left behind in Marshalls. (After the movie, I went back for the bag, but not the shoes. I just couldn't own something being peddled by Paris.)

The plot finally culminates in Beth staging an intervention for Ronny. Apparently, all his covert activity has made her think he's gambling again (He's a gambling addict; I forgot to mention that). The scene is nail-bitingly awful. (To give you an idea, Zip shows up as Ronny's presumed bookie.) As you'd predict, all hell eventually breaks loose and all the secrets come tumbling out. Despite some gloomy aftermath, Ronny finally proposes to Beth, rather inelegantly by hiding the ring in a takeout bag.

Nick and Geneva, however, don't make it.

In the final scene, Ronny, Beth, and Nick are at a hockey game, the bookend to a scene from the beginning of the movie. Nick is chosen from the audience to shoot a goal and makes it, winning a dream vacation. As my mom put it, you just know he's taking Ronny as his guest in a perfect end to this fraternity-esque who-needs-women-anyway bromance. Not that she used the phrase fraternity-esque who-needs-women-anyway bromance, but the sentiment was there.

All in all, I don't regret seeing The Dilemma, if only because I like to collect movie-going experiences the way I like to collect shoes. Because even when your shoes pinch, you're (mostly) still glad you made the journey. Which reminds me, I'd better hop to it and get the Jack Handey quote of the week up here . . .

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