The Source for Youth Ministry

Movie Reviews
by Jonathan McKee

Dilemma, The (05/03/2011)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content.

Directed by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Apollo 13, Parenthood…)

Starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum…

Jonathan's Rating: Rental

A fun date flick… in an age where good date flicks are rare!

Before going into The Dilemma… I must admit my biases. Because, whether we want to admit them or not, we all have biases and prejudices that thwart our ability to review something impartially. And I’m not a huge fan of Vincent Vaughn.

I know, I know… some of you really think he’s funny. I don’t. I think he’s pretty irritating. I didn’t like Wedding Crashers (I found him to be pathetic, really), and as funny as Dodgeball was… he wasn’t. The guy has very little range as an actor/comedian. His character in The Break-up is pretty much the same guy in Four Christmases and in Couple’s Retreat. Let’s face it… Kevin Costner has more range than this guy (and Costner has the range of a daisy air rifle).

So that being said, despite the fact that Vaughn once again played the exact same character… I actually enjoyed The Dilemma.

In The Dilemma, Vaughn and James play two best friends, Ronny and Nick, who start an auto design firm. Ronny (Vaughn) and Nick (James) nail an opportunity of a lifetime to create an electric car for Dodge that actually looks and sounds like a classic muscle car. During the stressful few weeks they have to design this car, Ronny discovers that Nick’s wife (Winona Ryder) is having an affair with another man (Channing Tatum). This creates a “Dilemma” for Ronny. Should he distract Nick during the final seconds in game seven? (Yes, I used a basketball analogy. But so does the film).

Going into the theatre, I had my doubts. Despite my predisposition, the film really delivered. Perhaps it was because Ron Howard was at the helm this time.

The comedy was fun, the dialogue creative and most the characters were likable.

On the negative side, the film had me flinching and saying, “Oh no, no, no, no!!!” too many times. I don’t like it when I’m exceedingly smarter than the lead characters. That only results in frustration.

But the film had enough creativity and laughs to keep me happy. More importantly… it was a fun date with my wife!

Definitely worth popping the popcorn at home and renting.

I’d probably let my older teenagers see it. It was typical PG-13 with a few crude jokes in spots. Queen Latifah (who I usually really enjoy) was overly sexual with her analogies in this film. Unnecessary and not even that funny.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

* * * SPOILER ALERT * * *

Q: What’s the message/theme of this movie?

A: The film really dealt with integrity and transparency. Friends and couples should not only be loyal to each other (not have an affair), but also completely honest with each other. At the end of the film, Nick basically tells Ronny, “You should have told me. That’s what friends do.”

Q: How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
A: Aside from the frivolous tangents this film took us on, the film deals primarily with the Nick’s wife Geneva’s affair and Ronny’s dilemma of how to tell the truth to his best friend. These are good subjects to dialogue about.

The Affair: Geneva tries to justify it, saying that Nick wasn’t there for her romantically and emotionally. Does that make it right? Is an affair ever okay? How can you avoid an affair in the first place? How could Nick and Geneva have dealt with some of their problems earlier before it snowballed out of control?

Honesty with friends: Ronny was scared that Nick wouldn’t want to hear about Geneva’s affair—does that mean Ronny should have kept quiet? How could Ronny have dealt with the situation correctly?

Q: How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?

A: Jesus was pretty serious about honesty and loyalty in relationships.

In Matthew, Chapter 5, Jesus is talking to a group of believers who probably have been taking the rules of the Old Testament and trying to find loopholes. In other words, these people had been avoiding adultery, but still thinking adulterous thoughts. They had been avoiding murder, but hating someone enough to where they were killing them in their mind.

Jesus confronts them by speaking in hyperbole. That means that he stated it in an extreme way to help them realize how bad their sin was. For example, many of these men had been avoiding actual physical adultery, but were looking at women with lustful thoughts and committing adultery in their minds (many people do that today with pornography. People did it back then too. They thought, “It doesn’t hurt if you look, but don’t touch.”) Jesus corrected this misconception by speaking in extremes. He said, “If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away! It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)

Wow! That’s pretty extreme!

Jesus used this same extreme language (speaking in hyperbole) when he talked about divorce. In Matthew 5:31 he quickly points out that some people were just quickly acquiring a certificate of divorce when they were tired of their wife. He says, “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.” (vs.32)


Those aren’t very popular words today—probably hard for many people to hear. But let’s be clear: Jesus hates divorce. He wants us to keep our word and our covenants to each other. Furthermore, relationships are of primary importance (vs. 23-24, and vs. 43-48 for example).

What is the one excuse Jesus lists where divorce is okay? Why do you think that this exception is okay? (Maybe because it’s a violation of such an important a covenant) What does he label someone who divorces his wife other than for reasons of unfaithfulness? Why do you think he made this statement so extreme? (Because people weren’t taking marriage, commitments and their word in general seriously.)

God cares deeply about our relationships with others. He wants us to put care into our marriage relationships so that they will endure. He even wants us to care about the relationships with our enemies (vs. 43-48). He knows that bad relationships with each other affect our relationship with him. That’s why Jesus said this:
    Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
    23 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,
    24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
What can you do this week to care for your relationships?

What can you do when you encounter conflict with someone you care about?

Jonathan McKee Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, and You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

Rate This Article!
*Email:  What is Gravatar?