At 118 minutes, 'The Dilemma' is easily 30 minutes too long. It's also one of the shortest films Ron Howard has ever directed, and his first comedy in over a decade. The man who grew up on sitcoms and then made agreeable diversions like 'Splash' and 'Parenthood' seems to have lost his comedic touch.
Then again, maybe it's just a bad screenplay. 'The Dilemma' was written by Allan Loeb, who's had more practice at dramas ('Things We Lost in the Fire,''21') than comedies ('The Switch') -- which might explain why this thing is constantly uncertain of what it's supposed to be. Its premise is pure farce: a man discovers his best friend's wife is cheating on him, is blackmailed into silence, and has his own furtive behavior misinterpreted. Yet there are surprisingly few laughs in the film, and several scenes that were clearly intended to be straight-up serious, despite being built on a premise that only works if you don't take it seriously.
The stars are Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, two formerly very different actors who are now starting to look alike, at least where hairlines and waistlines are concerned. They play Ronny Valentine and Nick Brannen, best friends since college who have started an automotive design firm. Ronny is the tall, fast-talking pitch man who sells General Motors on their idea; Nick is the squat, anxious engineer who makes the cars go vroom.