Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Dilemma

My friends talked me into seeing The Dilemma  last Friday.  For the record, I wanted to see How Do You Know because I find Owen Wilson endearing, but I was outnumbered and having one of those evenings where I desperately needed to interact with adults who didn’t know or care about Selena Gomez, so  if it meant spending $7.50 on a movie I didn’t know much about or up until that point have any desire to see, I was in.  I figured between Vince Vaughn and a PG-13 rating, I was probably going to be entertained and not too offended. If nothing else, I could catch up on sleep in a room where my cell phone doesn't get reception.

Disclaimer #1:  The rest of this contains a few minor spoilers.  Nothing a smart person wouldn't figure out, and   no one sees dead people, but you get the idea.

Disclaimer #2: I wouldn’t recommend this film to teens, my pastor or my mom.  It’s definitely a rental…  if that…  You will see someone’s naked (tattooed) backside, couples cohabitate and there are no absolute moral lessons to be learned.  Did I just give enough disclaimer to write about it?  No one’s gonna rush off and show it to their youth group cause they saw me tweet about?  We savvy?

That all being said, it was an interesting examination of honesty, marriage and hope.  It was also really funny.  I’ve been thinking about it all weekend. 

Lying and evading the truth catches up with everyone.  The basic plot is that Vince Vaughn’s character—a 40 year old guy, dating a great girl he’s summoning the strength to propose too—discovers his bff’s wife is having an affair.  Distraught over this and it's implications for marriage in general, he doesn’t know how to tell his best friend and doesn’t confide in his girlfriend.  While making for a hilarious plot, many can sympathize with the angst of being caught in the middle of drama.  It’s painful examination of how humans are community and there’s no such thing as a personal sin--  it affects everyone.

Their treatment of the struggles of marriage were sad and secular—you recognize that the couple had given up on each other and the tragic consequences of that.  I also felt that there was an unfair emphasis on the evil of the wife's affair while the husband's visit to "massage parlors" was shrugged off...  However, there was a surprising display of hope (and classic chick-flick cheese, I concede) when Vaughn’s character, rather than succumb to the idea that fidelity in marriage is a myth, decides to propose anyways.  An interesting example of, where sin increases, grace abounds that I wouldn't expect Hollywood to develop but which still gives the viewer a lot to think about.  What makes people persevere, even when they're surrounded by bad examples? Grace, of course...  And Vaughn's character demonstrates a surprising amount of it from overcoming addiction, to fumbling through a prayer when he doesn't know what to do and his ultimate somewhat courageous decision to give marriage a go.

It’s only a movie, but it has had me thinking all weekend about community, sin and grace.  And, ultimately, hope that we haven’t completely lost sight of the idea of marriage… yet.


  1. Nice review - I have been wanting to see this and actually didn't realize it was out yet. And now you've given me food for thought AFTER I see the movie. Thanks!

  2. thanks. and I apologize, I should've warned, minor spoilers.

  3. Very nice review!! I saw it this weekend too with friends and was very surprised at its honest evaluation, Vaughn's frank conversation with God and the definitely the grace prevailing, even in the worst of situations!