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Capsule reviews: 'The Dilemma,' 'The Green Hornet'

The Associated Press, Thursday, January 13, 2011, 5:54am (PST)

Capsule reviews of films opening this week:

"The Dilemma" — Add to Vince Vaughn's canon of gonzo enthusiasm the blissful image of him using a makeshift blowtorch on a suburban block, screaming, "I'm going to burn your face off!" His act maybe isn't as fresh as it once was, but Vaughn still puts a charge into movies. Ron Howard's comedy begins and ends in hokey cliche, but for a brief period in the middle, it carries a slight hint of Billy Wilder, playing uncomfortable stuff for not entirely dumb laughs. Chicago engineers and buddies Ronny Valentine (Vaughn) and Nick Brannen (Kevin James) each have long-term partners: Ronny's girlfriend, Beth (Jennifer Connelly), and Nick's wife, Geneva (Winona Ryder). After Ronny sees Geneva cheating on Nick with another man (Channing Tatum), he descends into a world of infidelity where seemingly everyone is cheating. Unfortunately, Howard's light-but-thorny examination of marital disfunction becomes distracted by pratfalls and standard bromance comedy. Ryder matches Vaughn's wildness, but Connelly isn't given a chance and James isn't up to it. Sports metaphors proliferate until the film sinks into them, finally, senselessly concluding on an NHL rink. PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving sexual content. 110 minutes. Two stars out of four.

— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

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"The Green Hornet" — Someday soon, hopefully, 3-D will be exposed for the sham that it is. We will all realize that, for the vast majority of films, shooting in or converting to 3-D offers absolutely nothing from a narrative standpoint, and very little visually; all this gimmick really adds is money at the box office through higher ticket prices. But until that blessed day comes, we will continue to be bombarded with mediocre action pictures like this. It didn't have to be this way. There was reason for hope. "The Green Hornet" comes from director Michel Gondry, who's known for visually inspired films including "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "The Science of Sleep." Hearing his name attached to a big, studio superhero movie — starring Seth Rogen, of all people — may have sounded incongruent, but at least it was intriguing. Instead, Gondry has come up with a surprisingly generic, bombastic action movie. Based on the 1930s radio show, "The Green Hornet" stars Rogen as Britt Reid, playboy heir to the Los Angeles publishing empire built by his father (Tom Wilkinson). But when his father dies suddenly, Britt realizes he has a chance to use his fortune for good, and decides to become a vigilante crime fighter with the help of his father's mechanic, the soft-spoken but ever-resourceful Kato (Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou). PG-13 for sequences of violent action, language, sensuality and drug content. 118 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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