A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Ron Howard-directed buddy comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James takes a serious swerve pretty quickly, delving into the subject of infidelity and how it wrecks a marriage. As such, it's probably too heavy for tweens and younger teens. You can also expect some crass moments in Vaughn’s riffs (including one about "doing tricks"), making out, and sexual innuendo. Language is fairly salty, including one use of "f--k" (plus "s--t," "a--hole," and more), and there’s some drinking. All of that said, the movie ultimately has a positive message about the importance of honesty in good friendships and marriages.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ronny (Vince Vaughn) and his best friend, Nick (Kevin James), are convinced that they have the next best thing when it comes to electric cars. A major car company agrees, allowing the friends a pivotal meeting during which they can unveil their prototype. But Ronny suddenly has a lot on his mind. He wants to finally propose to his devoted girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly), but that’s not what’s truly eating at him. The bigger issue is that he just witnessed Nick’s wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder), canoodling with someone else. Hence Ronny's dilemma: Should he tell Nick?
Is it any good?
It only takes a few minutes before you're reminded that THE DILEMMA is a Vince Vaughn vehicle, thanks to a hilarious riff that explodes in tangential directions. (In other words, Vaughn does exactly what he's done in pretty much all of his movies.) He and James have great chemistry, which works for the movie's buddy comedy aspects.
But a funny thing -- or, rather, an odd thing -- happens on the way to the ending: The movie shifts in tone and becomes serious, creating imbalance and, to some extent, confusion. Is this a comedy? A drama? A relationship how-to? The Dilemma can’t decide. (Perhaps that’s why Queen Latifah’s turn as an auto exec seems woefully underemphasized.) And that’s its own essential dilemma.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages about relationships -- both friendships and romantic connections. Do the characters learn anything over the course of the movie? What, if anything, can their experiences teach teens about relationships?
Who do you think the movie's target audience is? How can you tell?
Have you ever found yourself in a hard-to-call situation where being honest was difficult? What did you do?
- In theaters: January 14, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: May 3, 2011
- Cast: Jennifer Connelly, Kevin James, Vince Vaughn, Winona Ryder
- Director: Ron Howard
- Studio: Universal Studios
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic elements involving sexual content
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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