The Dilemma



Friendship comedy veers into serious territory.
  • Review Date: January 11, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Although much of the movie revolves around issues related to infidelity, ultimately the message is that good friendships are based on honesty, as are solid, long-standing marriages.

Positive role models

The two main characters are loyal to each other and watch each other’s backs. Other characters are less upstanding, with some cheating, etc.


A man hits another with a baseball bat. He also brandishes a gun, point-blank, at the other. A man sucker-punches another, drawing blood. Characters scream at each other.


References to "doing tricks," "happy ending" massages, and other sexual innuendoes. A couple makes out in a public place. The plot centers around an affair.


Swearing includes one use of "f--k," plus "s--t," "a--hole," "damn," "prick," "hell," "ass," "goddamn," and "screw."


Logos are visible for Toyota and General Motors. Also lots of name-dropping, including Chrysler, Dodge, Pontiac, Toyota, Mad Men, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Allusions to drug use, though viewers see nothing. A man talks about being high on Oxycontin. Lots of social drinking, including beer, wine, and champagne.

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.

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, exactly what Vaughn has 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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 14, 2011
DVD release date:May 3, 2011
Cast:Jennifer Connelly, Kevin James, Vince Vaughn, Winona Ryder
Director:Ron Howard
Studio:Universal Studios
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:mature thematic elements involving sexual content

This review of The Dilemma was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 14 years old Written byzc97 January 29, 2011
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written bysmmatthias June 16, 2015

Beware of nudity

I bought this movie after reading the reviews, only to find out that there was nudity in one scene that wasn't mentioned anywhere. The movie went in the garbage.
Adult Written byzeekattacklee January 21, 2015

The Dilemma Review

It was worth watching.. The Film itself does not come out very innocent for young children and it did have a scene of sexual material followed by quite a bit of strong language.. Otherwise, I would only recommend this to older teenagers.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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