The new Ron Howard comedy “The Dilemma” was a wipe-out at the box office last weekend for good reason — it’s one of the most ill-conceived “bromances” of recent vintage, a rare major studio film without a redeeming feature.
The picture is about two longtime friends and business partners — played by Vince Vaughn and Kevin James — whose relationship falls apart after Vaughn sees James’s wife (Winona Ryder) two-timing her husband with a younger man (Channing Tatum).
“The Dilemma” quickly makes nearly all of the characters in the movie unlikeable with the exception of Vaughn’s live-in girlfriend — a gorgeous Chicago chef and restaurant owner played by the Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Connelly.
Connelly keeps her dignity in “The Dilemma” because her character gets to remain on the fringes of the action for most of the movie. Vaughn doesn’t level with her about what he saw the Ryder character do until near the end.
The plot is so foolish that I quickly tuned out and became fascinated instead by what this big and expensive Hollywood picture says about the physical attributes of male and female stars in 2011.
Vaughn and James have been airbrushed and had their faces thinned down a bit for the posters (in which they are the only featured players) but in the movie itself they both look tired and out of shape — like the dads in a long-running sitcom after a bender.
Meanwhile, the actresses who play the two female leads appear to have been starved to within an inch of their lives and are glammed up to a point that works against the believability of the story — What the hell are these great looking dames doing with these two schlubs?
It’s fascinating and sad to see how gifted actresses who are in the neighborhood of 40 must do everything it takes to look 10 or 15 years younger in order to play the wives or girlfriends of male stars who are allowed to let themselves go once they pass 35.
And the reward for these talented and highly disciplined women is to be cast in the sort of demeaning roles that Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder have been given in “The Dilemma.”