Tell tale tit
Your tongue’s going to split
And all the other birdies
Will have a little bit.
For those of you unfamiliar with this ditty, it’s a chant used in playgrounds when someone has sneaked to the teacher and ‘told’.
The grown up version is far harsher and snitching on your best friend’s wife makes you a ‘tell tale rat’, but if saying nothing means living with guilt for the rest of your life then it’s quite a dilemma, which is where Vince Vaughn finds himself.
It’s an entertaining exploration of a catch-22 situation with some, but not nearly enough, LOL moments.
Ronny Valentine (Vince Vaughn) is in a committed relationship with Beth (Jennifer Connolly) while his best friend Nick Brannen (Kevin James) is married to Geneva (Wynona Ryder).
Ronny and Kevin have been best buddies since college days and are also partners in an auto design company, for which they have just won a dream project.
All seems well until Ronny happens to see Geneva with her young lover and is faced with the dilemma of whether he should or should not tell.
The main character, Ronny, keeps his appeal throughout but Nick, his wimpy side-kick, changes to super-assertive when it suits the plot and the result is clichéd.
Beth is sweet and not given much to do apart from tear-filled and weepy which is always pretty irritating but Geneva’s ability to switch the tears on and off is entertaining and reminds us why bad girls have so much more appeal.
The heart of this story, and what makes it work, is when the pendulum swings between ‘to-tell’ or ‘not-to-tell’.
We are convinced, and then we are unconvinced, but all this cleverly structured tension vanishes when the film breaks into extraneous plot lines about Geneva’s lover and Beth’s parents.
These diversions make it feel as if the story has run out of steam and, with a running time of 118 minutes, could have been cut, making our journey to Judgment Day faithful to the theme.
The clear message in this film is that if a relationship is strong enough, it will withstand anything, but if there’s a chink in the armour, then the truth will seek it out and shatter the bond forever.
This is all great moral stuff, but what the filmmakers don’t comment on is Geneva’s infidelity and, with her being the happy one and Beth being stressed and weepy, we’ll have to assume the message is that being kind and thoughtful doesn’t guarantee happiness and, when it comes down to it, two timing really is twice the fun.
USA – 14 January 2011
UK – 21 January 2011