I’m normally not a
Vince Vaughn fan, but this film, costarring Kevin James, renewed my
faith in him as a leading man. I had avoided this movie for some time,
thinking it was a typical Hollywood romcom full of raunch, but again,
free HBO encouraged me to give it a try. While it has some questionable
scenes and unsavory dialogue most Christians won’t like, there are some
surprising spiritual elements in the script that gave me hope in Ron
Howard as a storyteller.
Set in Chicago, The
Dilemma is a classic buddy picture starring Vaughn (Ronny), a
witty, fast-talking, confirmed bachelor who is in a long-term
relationship with Beth (played by Jennifer Connelly). In contrast, his
best friend and business partner, James (Nick), is a sweet, adorable,
and happily married man who dotes on his wife, Geneva (played by Wynona
Ryder). Buddies since college, Ronny and Nick own an auto design firm
whose success hinges on a dream project with a Big-Three car
manufacturer and an engine design based solely on Nick’s genius.
While Nick spends every waking
hour working on their design, Ronny handles PR and marketing, and most
important, keeps Nick happy so that the project deadline can be met.
Everything seems to be going well until Ronny inadvertently witnesses
Geneva with a younger man (played by the extremely handsome Channing
Tatum, despite being covered in tattoos). Ronny follows Geneva and her
lover through a botanical garden, confirming his suspicions of her
infidelity. Typical Vaughn hilarity ensues as physical humor lands
Ronny face down in a pile of expensive, poisonous plants that burn the
skin and bring on a slew of nasty side effects that are only the
beginning of his woes.
Set on telling Nick everything
he has seen, Ronny returns to the design studio and suddenly has a
change of heart. There are problems with the project, which has put
Nick in a panic and created a bad case of bleeding ulcers. Hoping to
financial ruin, Ronny puts off Nick temporarily, but Geneva’s
duplicity soon brings Ronny’s temper to a boiling point. One minute she
is gushing over her husband, and the next minute she is secretly
cavorting with her boyfriend.
he confronts her with the truth and more disaster ensues. Determined to
protect his friend from an unfaithful wife, Ronny risks his
relationship with his sister, his business connections in Detroit, and,
most important, his relationship with Beth.
Spurred on by Geneva and her
boyfriend, Beth and Nick come to believe that Ronny’s lies and erratic
behavior are just a cover for a recurring bout of compulsive gambling.
They surprise him with an intervention, which can only be described as
a clever combination of comedy and tragedy. Great writing, acting, and
directing made this scene memorable.
But what sold me on this movie
was a small, very tender scene that takes place on a city street bench
after Ronny has had a terrible fight with Geneva’s boyfriend (again, a
very clever combination of humor and tragedy). With everything coming
against him and the truth bearing down on his conscience, Ronny looks
up into the night sky and cries out to God, praying for guidance and
help. It was unexpected and yet so refreshing. I would see the movie
again just for that one scene. What a pleasure to see nuggets of truth
tucked into a secular film; I felt like I had uncovered buried
The message of the film was the
importance of telling the truth and not hiding it from those you love
for fear of their being hurt. As Ronny painfully discovers, keeping the
truth buried away actually creates the hurt, since truth cannot be kept
secret forever. But with every great story, there is forgiveness,
redemption, and restoration, as there is with Ronny and Nick.
The final scene portrayed all of
this beautifully as they roll around on the ice at a Blackhawks’ hockey
game, locked in each others’ arms. It touched my heart to see a story
display the great brotherly love two men have for each other. Watch it
for yourself and see if you agree.