Ron Howard has a bit of a reputation. He, along with producing partner Brian Glazer, has become known for a generic competence that, within the mainstream, has evolved into a brand of comfort and some measure of quality. Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code are among the titles in his filmography that audiences, even those not prone to keeping track of directors, can reel off with ease. On the less serious side, who can forget Night Shift, Splash and Parenthood (which is somehow enjoying a second re-iteration on television)?
So, why, instead of simply doing his workmanlike best, is Howard trying to transform himself into a Judd Apatow clone with The Dilemma? This Vince Vaughn-Kevin James dramedy feels less like Parenthood than an attempt to make the last third of Funny People with all of its infidelity issues as funny as the first two thirds by keeping the spotlight on the bromance between the leads.
Vaughn talks up a less-than-perfect storm, James whines and whimpers along and only Channing Tatum, as the anonymous cad schtumping Winona Ryder (as James’ wife), finds an answer to his own dilemma by getting unexpectedly frisky and hilariously funky in a turn that deserves to be in a different, and much better, movie. Howard is cheating on himself, seeking to woo an even larger audience with what must seem like new tastes, but with The Dilemma he will hopefully realize that he had us all along. Grade: D-plus