Tired of being harassed by his boss Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller), Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) quits his job and starts up his own company in hopes that he can lure over some of her clients.
A year later, and his company is still struggling big time, but, with the help of his recruits Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), if he can seal an important deal with smarmy executive Jim Spinch (James Franco) over in Europe, his company will survive.
Remember when Vince Vaughn movies were funny? Remember Swingers, Made, Old School, Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers? Those were a long, long time ago. Since partnering up with Owen Wilson for the first time back in ’05, he gave us Fred Claus, Four Christmases, Couples Retreat, The Dilemma, The Watch and Delivery Man. I surprisingly got a kick out of The Internship, but if it wasn’t for him and Wilson being onscreen together again, I’d be singing a different tune. That said, even if I’m in the minority of those that didn’t think The Internship sucked, that still leaves him with one hit in seven at bats over the past decade, and Unfinished Business ain’t bringing that batting average up any time soon.
Hold on for just a moment. 1-7... 1-8… There.
Unfinished Business is such a mess, I don’t even know where to begin, which is rather fitting when talking about a movie that clearly has no idea what type of movie it’s supposed to be, and feels – no pun intended – unfinished. Even the film’s opening, an argument between Vaughn and Sienna Miller, feels like there was supposed to be about ten minutes of setup before it. Director Ken Scott (who directed Delivery Man and the original film its based on, Starbuck) and writer Steven Conrad can’t decide whether they want this to be a broad frat house type comedy or a sticky sweet, feel good comedy that takes every opportunity given it to shove that “family is important” crap down our throats like what we get with the annual Adam Sandler turd. Together, the combination makes for a jarringly inconsistent film.
It’s not that this couldn’t have worked as a raunchy comedy a la Old School and Wedding Crashers, or as a character-centered comedy, or even going the Judd Apatow approach which effectively blends the two. But Scott’s approach to each angle has the tone shifting wildly out of control. One moment Wilkinson’s dreaming about doing it wheelbarrow position, the next Vaughn’s having a heart-to-heart FaceTime chat with his bullied son (all the scenes involving Vaughn’s family are nothing more than mawkish PSA commercials on bullying). The edgy humor, which is pretty much Wilkinson talking about his favorite positions, dropping F-bombs and smoking from a bong, isn’t clever, and when it aims to keep things focused on the characters you just don’t care ’cause everything’s half-assed. There’s absolutely no effort to explain just what Vaughn’s business does (it has something to do with swarf – small particles of metal created in manufacturing for bridges – but whatever), and for a deal that’s so high stakes for his company, we never learn what exactly the deal terms are.
I guess just throw up a pie chart and a graph, and that explains everything.
Even more confounding is Dave Franco’s bizarre character. At first, you’re led to believe Franco’s Mike Pancake is this shy awkward corporate newbie who’s the type of kid that grows on you and becomes kinda endearing. Then, over the course of the film, it’s learned that he not only never attended college, he comes from a group home, but it’s never made clear why he’s in a home and whether it’s ’cause he’s troubled or special (the way he acts, you begin to assume the latter). But then after that, he’s getting praised by Vaughn for the great work he’s done on the business reports for their deal, even though he’s never given the impression once that he’s capable of doing such great work.
This is a kid that probably can’t even tie his shoes without getting dizzy spells, but now we’re supposed to believe that he’s Dave Ramsey all of a sudden?
Of course, none of this would even matter if this was the slightest bit funny, but nearly everything about this energy-lacking film stinks to high heaven of laziness. Franco’s dopey antics eventually grow tiresome, and the joke revolving around his character’s breakfast sounding last name, Pancake, wears out its welcome almost immediately. Wilkinson’s only embarrassing himself ’cause his only purpose in this film is to be the old guy that says and does all the crazy things.
I say “nearly” everything about this film sucks, ’cause there’s one moment involving Vaughn and a “living art” hotel reservation that’s actually somewhat clever. It’s too bad everything else surrounding it couldn’t be the same.
Oh, one last thing. James Marsden, for the love of God, fire your agent.
While we’re at it, Vaughn, you should do the same.
Tonally jumbled and unfocused, Unfinished Business is yet another failed attempt at comedy from Vince Vaughn, who, along with Dave Franco and a criminally wasted Tom Wilkinson, stumbles aimlessly from beginning to end as he tries to find his way through Steven Conrad’s sloppily constructed script. Despite the number of misfires, no one can deny the talent Vaughn possesses; it’s just a shame that the dreck he’s been churning out for the past ten years are nothing more than reminders of how long it’s been since his talent’s been put to good use, and what a sad reminder this is.
I give Unfinished Business a D- (½★).