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The Dilemma

Dir: Ron Howard. US. 2011. 101mins

Though its blend of genres seems to give it plenty of options for connecting to an audience, bromantic - and occasionally romantic - comedy drama The Dilemma gets most of what appeal it has from the familiar shtick of stars Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. With James in particular on a commercial streak that may be enough to drive this Ron Howard-directed trifle to a decent if not spectacular box office take.

The male leads look comfortable in roles that approximate to their usual comic personas and each deliver chuckle-worthy moments.

Distributor Universal, which co-produced with Imagine and co-financed with Spyglass, will do best in North America, where the male-skewing PG-13 comedy opens on Jan 14, in the same slot as James’ 2009 breakthrough Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Finding an audience in the international marketplace, where neither star is much of a draw, will be trickier.

The plot premise has Vaughn’s longtime bachelor Ronny catching Geneva (Winona Ryder), the wife of his best friend and auto engine company partner Nick (James), with another man. Ronny’s indecision about how and when to give his anxious, workaholic buddy the bad news lasts for most of the film.

So the script has to introduce other twists - Ronny’s gambling problem, suspicions about his own girlfriend and he and Nick’s pitch for a big business contract - to keep the story moving.

The male leads look comfortable in roles that approximate to their usual comic personas (Vaughn’s witty everyman and James’ vulnerable nice guy) and each deliver chuckle-worthy moments. In the supporting cast, Channing Tatum (Dear John) and Queen Latifah (Chicago) do enjoyable turns.

But Howard, whose last comedy was 2000 holiday hit How The Grinch Stole Christmas, seems to be struggling to rediscover his comic touch.  The film plods when it should be light-footed and doesn’t engage sufficiently when it’s trying to be dramatic.

Production companies: Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Wild West Picture Show, Spyglass Entertainment

North American distribution: Universal Pictures

International distribution: Universal Pictures International, Spyglass Entertainment, www.spyglassentertainment.com

Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Vince Vaughn

Executive producers: Todd Hallowell, Victoria Vaughn, Kim Roth

Screenplay: Allan Loeb

Cinematography: Salvatore Totino

Production designer: Daniel Clancy

Editors: Mike Hill, Dan Hanley

Music: Hans Zimmer

Website: www.thedilemamovie.com

Main cast: Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, Queen Latifah

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