The Dilemma

The Dilemma
The Dilemma
Vaughn and James stand side-by-side, wearing tie-less dress shirts and blazers.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Brian Grazer
Vince Vaughn
Written by Allan Loeb
Starring Vince Vaughn
Kevin James
Winona Ryder
Jennifer Connelly
Channing Tatum
Queen Latifah
Music by Hans Zimmer
Lorne Balfe
Cinematography Salvatore Totino
Editing by Mike Hill
Dan Hanley
Studio Imagine Entertainment
Spyglass Entertainment
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) January 14, 2011 (2011-01-14)
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $70 million[1]
Box office $70,525,502[1]

The Dilemma is a 2011 comedy-drama film starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. The film is directed by Ron Howard. Ronny (Vaughn) and Nick (James) are best friends and partners in an auto design firm. They are pursuing a project to make their firm famous. Ronny sees Nick's wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) kissing another man (Channing Tatum). Ronny seeks out answers and has to figure out how to tell Nick about what he saw while working with him to complete their critical presentation.[2]

It was filmed entirely in Chicago, Illinois. The Dilemma was released by Universal Pictures in the United States and Canada on January 14, 2011.



The film begins with Ronny (Vince Vaughn), his girlfriend Beth (Jennifer Connelly), his best friend Nick (Kevin James), and Nick’s wife Geneva (Winona Ryder) all at dinner. They’re sharing stories when Beth asks how long it takes to really know someone. Ronny states that you can never really know someone; Nick disagrees.

At a car show, Ronny is able to get him and Nick a meeting with Dodge in a few days. They celebrate with dinner with their ladies. While Nick and Geneva are dancing, Ronny tells Beth that he really looks up to Nick, who pulls him onto the dance floor. When they switch partners, Geneva tells Ronny that they love Beth and asks Ronny when he’s going to propose to her. That evening, Ronny asks Beth if there’s a clock ticking; she says no, but if things progress, she won’t be unhappy.

In Detroit for their meeting with Dodge, Ronny tells Nick that he’s worked out a deal to get Beth a $20,000 ring for half price if Nick can help by fixing the seller’s car. Nick agrees. In their meeting, they pitch an electric car with the build of a muscle car. Dodge agrees to give them $400,000 for a prototype, and leaves Susan Warner (Queen Latifah) as their supervisor. She’s extremely enthusiastic about working with them, and talks about having serious “lady- wood”. Nick worries that he’s going to fail; Ronny reassures him.

Later, he mentions this to Beth, who is a chef, and asks how he is doing, concerned that he is feeling overwhelmed. (Ronny had a very serious gambling problem two years prior.) He promises that he’s fine then heads to a botanical garden to arrange the proposal. While he’s there, he catches a glimpse of Geneva, whom he follows. He walks through poisonous plants and is caught by the manager just as he sees Geneva kiss a young man (Channing Tatum). He’s read all of the horrible side effects of the plants, (painful urination, hallucinations, etc.) and gets kicked out. He later lies to Beth about how he got the rash, and when he re-enacts it, he drops a stack of money, which Beth sees. He lies again saying that he’s paying his parts suppliers, which she doesn’t appear to believe.

He goes to work to tell Nick, but doesn’t when Nick yells at him. He calls his sister for advice, but she assumes he’s talking about her husband, so that fails too. Nick later apologizes, and before Ronny can say anything, Beth and Geneva come to take them out for a break. They go to a Blackhawks hockey game. Geneva goes for beer; Ronny follows and confronts her. She tries to explain, then accuses Nick of getting “massages” every Thursday. She promises that the affair is over, and she’ll tell Nick once the car is finished.

At the office later, Nick inquires about why Ronny’s dragging his feet with the proposal. Ronny tries to probe about possibly getting a massage; Nick feigns ignorance. Ronny later follows him to the massage parlor. He then calls Geneva to apologize, but hears her with the young man, Zip. She tells him to meet her at a diner, where she tells Ronny that she’ll deny the affair and tell Nick that Ronny has been hitting on her, and revealing a fling they had back in college. She leaves telling Ronny to stay out of her marriage.

At home the next morning, Ronny answers a call for Beth, but the caller hangs up. He calls back, and gets the number to a corporate office that is opening a restaurant in Vegas. He later gets a call from Susan, warning him that Dodge has another competitor working on a similar project. Afterwards, he follows Geneva to Zip’s and photographs them together. Kids start skateboarding nearby, so he can’t leave, making him late for Beth’s parents’ 40th anniversary party. When Geneva leaves, he’s caught by Zip, and they get into a fight. Ronny fights his way out of the house using hairspray and a candle as a torch...but Zip catches up to him outside, damaging Ronny's car with a baseball bat. He demands to know what Ronny was doing in his house, and Ronny tells him he is best friends with Geneva's husband. He calls Zip garbage for sleeping with Geneva, and then leaves as Zip starts to cry. Ronny cleans himself up then heads to the party, where he makes a long, inappropriate speech about honesty, secretly aimed at Geneva, who is also in attendance. Beth takes him aside and begs him to be honest with her, so he asks about the Vegas restaurant. She explains that she was offered a job, but declined because she doesn’t trust him in Vegas. He leaves and spends the night at the office.

He goes back to Zip’s to get his camera. Zip answers the door with a gun, and insists that Ronny come in, because he read that he could legally shoot someone in self defense if they enter your home. Ronny refuses to enter, and Zip starts crying again about Ronny killing his fish, due to the fact that Ronny accidentally destroyed his fish tank during their fight the other night. He demands that Ronny give him $10,000 for damages, but settles for $1000 and an apology and gives him back his camera. Nick arrives after Ronny leaves, having followed him there suspecting Zip was a bookie, and Ronny was borrowing money for gambling.

Ronny goes back home to find Beth, Nick, his sister, Geneva, and his gambling sponsor holding an intervention for him. Zip shows up seconds later, claiming to be his bookie. Ronny lashes out at him and hits him. When Zip leaves, Ronny explains that he’s not gambling, he’s been acting weird because he found out a week ago that Geneva was having an affair with Zip and didn’t know how to tell Nick. Surprisingly, Geneva admits the affair. Ronny also confesses to the college fling. Nick is outraged and leaves.

Ronny comes home later after going for a walk. He tells Beth he brought her something to eat and they apologize for not trusting each other. She opens the bag of food and finds an engagement ring inside, and accepts his proposal.

At the meeting the next morning, Nick tells Ronny he moved out, then hits Ronny twice for not telling him the truth. He makes Ronny promise to be honest even if it hurts. They make up and head into the meeting, where Nick unveils the prototype car. Through his extensive research and tuning, he was able to make the new eco-friendly Dodge Charger sound and perform just like the classic 1968 Dodge Charger. Dodge is impressed with the prototype and give Nick and Ronny the contract.

At a Blackhawks game some time later, Nick finally gets a chance to try a challenge he always claimed he could do. He fails twice, but on his third attempt, Ronny gives Nick the coach's dramatic speech from the film Miracle, and he gets the puck into a net, winning a chance to go to an all-star game. Ronny runs onto the ice to celebrate with him before they are both escorted off.



The Dilemma is directed by Ron Howard and written by Allan Loeb. The film was Howard's first comedy film since he directed EDtv in 1999. The film was first announced in January 2010 as an untitled project when actor Vince Vaughn signed on for a starring role. The premise was conceived by producer Brian Grazer, Howard's production partner at Imagine Entertainment; Loeb wrote the script.[3] Actor Kevin James was cast alongside Vaughn in February.[4] The film continues "Vaughn's interest in tackling the dark areas of relationships", following The Break-Up (2006) and Couples Retreat (2009). The darker moments of the latter film were omitted from the final edit.[3]

With a budget of $70 million,[5] filming took place entirely in Chicago, Illinois, from late May 2010 to mid-August 2010.[6] The film, which was called Cheaters and What You Don't Know during production, was ultimately titled The Dilemma by Universal.[7]

Language in advertising

When Universal released the trailer for The Dilemma, the studio drew complaints about the pejorative use of "gay" in Vaughn's line in the trailer's opening scene, "Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual gay, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay." Universal said it contacted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) about the line before the trailer was released, and GLAAD said the step indicated the studio knew the line was problematic. Universal received complaints when the trailer appeared online before in theaters, and the studio sought to work with GLAAD to prepare a new trailer. Before action was taken, the line was first publicly criticized by journalist Anderson Cooper in a story about gay bullying on his show Anderson Cooper 360°. Universal and GLAAD disputed each other's actions toward remedy, and GLAAD requested for the trailer to be removed and for the line to be removed from the film itself. Ultimately, the studio released a new trailer without the offending line.[8] Universal deferred to Howard, who had final cut privilege, to decide about removing the line from the film, and the director chose to keep it. Howard supported the removal of the line from advertising, but he justified his decision to keep it in the film, saying, "If storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought."[9]


Theatrical run

The Dilemma had its world premiere in Chicago on January 6, 2011.[10] The film was commercially released in 2,940 theaters in the United States and Canada on January 14, 2011. It grossed a four-day total of $20.5 million over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday weekend, ranking second at the box office after fellow opener The Green Hornet.[1] Prior to The Dilemma's release, Variety reported that with The Green Hornet attracting young people, The Dilemma was expected to serve as counterprogramming, attracting people 25 years old and up. Universal had expected the film to gross in the mid-teen millions.[11] Exit polling showed that 60% of the audience was female and that 58% were 30 years old and up.[12] According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a "B" grade.[13] While adult audiences generally shy away from films' opening weekends, The Dilemma performed above the studio's expectations. The Dilemma also opened in four territories outside the United States and Canada, grossing $1.8 million. The film's opening in Australia grossed $1.4 million despite floods in Queensland and in Victoria affecting 14% of the area's theaters.[14]

The Dilemma's opening was a relative low for the film's stars. Vaughn's previous films Couples Retreat (2009) and Four Christmases (2008) grossed twice The Dilemma's amount on their opening weekends. James had appeared in Grown Ups (2010) and Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009), both of which also had stronger openings. According to Box Office Mojo, The Dilemma was weakly advertised, especially compared to The Green Hornet. It reported, "Blink-and-you-miss-them television ads failed to convey the premise or provide laughs. Dilemma's premise of a man learning his friend's wife is cheating and debating whether to tell the friend or not wasn't much of a dilemma, and it wasn't as comedically charged as Vaughn's other relationship comedies."[12]

The film grossed $48.4 million in the United States and Canada and $21.7 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $70.2 million.[1]

Critical reception

The Dilemma was given negative reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 23% based on reviews from 152 critics and reports a rating average of 4.3 out of 10.[15] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 46 based on 32 reviews.[16] Rotten Tomatoes reported the overall consensus, "It boasts a likable cast and an interesting premise, but The Dilemma can't decide what to do with them; the result is an uneven blend of cheesy slapstick and surprisingly dark comedy."[15]

Home media

The DVD and Blu-ray was released on May 3, 2011 in the US. It made $6,521,426 from DVD sales.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "The Dilemma (2011)". The Numbers. Retrieved April 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Dilemma". CraveOnline. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Kit, Borys (January 6, 2010). "Vince Vaughn, Ron Howard eye cheating picture". The Hollywood Reporter (Reuters). 
  4. ^ Kit, Borys (February 22, 2010). "Kevin James to co-star in Ron Howard film". The Hollywood Reporter (Reuters). 
  5. ^ Fritz, Ben (January 13, 2011). "Movie projector: 'Green Hornet' has plenty of buzz, 'The Dilemma' may have a problem". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 14, 2011. 
  6. ^ Metz, Nina (June 24, 2010). "Duck! It's a 'Transformers 3' invasion". Chicago Tribune. 
  7. ^ "Vince Vaughn, Kevin James hope third title for new movie is a charmer". Chicago Tribune. July 29, 2010. 
  8. ^ Kilday, Gregg (October 12, 2010). "'Dilemma' dispute hurts studio and gay rights group". The Hollywood Reporter (Reuters). 
  9. ^ Goldstein, Patrick; Rainey, James (October 29, 2010). "Ron Howard on 'The Dilemma's' gay joke: It stays in the movie". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ D'Zurilla, Christie (January 7, 2011). "Vince Vaughn, pregnant Jennifer Connelly at 'The Dilemma' premiere". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 10, 2011. 
  11. ^ Stewart, Andrew (January 14, 2011). "Studios seek holiday green". Variety. 
  12. ^ a b Gray, Brandon (January 16, 2011). "'Green Hornet' Kicks Into Top Gear Over MLK Weekend". (Box Office Mojo). Retrieved January 17, 2011. 
  13. ^ McClintock, Pamela (January 16, 2011). "'Green Hornet' Tops Soft Weekend Box Office With $34 Million". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  14. ^ Stewart, Andrew (January 16, 2011). "'Hornet' buzzes over holiday B.O.". Variety. 
  15. ^ a b "The Dilemma Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  16. ^ "The Dilemma". Metacritic. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  17. ^

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