Unfinished Business review: Misleading marketing leads to disappointment
Starring Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson. Directed by Ken Scott. Written by Steve Conrad. Released March 6, 2015. 1hr., 31 min.
Unfinished Business unevenly mixes raunchy comedy with family drama that one wouldn’t expect from the advertised film.
The forced family drama is better anticipated from an afterschool special. It was surely a poor attempt to compensate for a weakly structured narrative. It’s a basic plot following Vince Vaughn as a bland protagonist, Dan Trunkman. He quits his job and starts his own business, called Apex Select, selling swarf, a type of metal. A young buck and an old crypt keeper follow him into the venture, in a spontaneous recruitment that only happens in the movies. The young buck, Mike Pancake (Dave Franco) was just interviewing and only has sales experience from Foot Locker; The crypt keeper, Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) was fired because of his age.
Mike’s last name is a recurring joke where Vaughn’s Dan prefers that he doesn’t say it because it throws the clients’ focus. It’s a desperate joke that works once or twice. Franco plays a simple man. His energy and gleeful naivety, especially when he sees breasts, is charming enough to work. He always has a kid in a candy store look on his face, likely because he’s mentally challenged – a character aspect that’s never developed. His performance works because it borders on naivety and pure stupidity.
Franco is the strongest of the group, so it’s baffling that they had to give him a recurring joke crutch. Vaughn, the weakest link and lead, probably needed it the most. It’s not that his character wasn’t a nice guy, it’s that he wasn’t interesting or very funny. He’s what glues the team together at their worst points, like when their old boss Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller) shows up and interferes with their business deal. She interferes on a business deal with some sort-of big firm. That doesn’t get explained well, either. The supposed-to-be a one day business trip turns into a exploit-filled business trip to Berlin. There’s sporadic raunchiness, where they only compiled the trailers from the party scenes to sell it to a younger demographic.
They showed enough pointless female and male nudity, in a rather awkward bathroom scene, to get an R-rating slapped on it. Though, it was an interesting creative choice to spotlight a Berlin gay fetish festival rather than the defining Oktoberfest. I suppose it makes the film unique in its own way, but very basic thematically. The film tries to depressingly portray the idea that if you work and travel too much, you’re going to be super unhappy. Adding to the depressing quality, there’s a large focus on relentless bullying. Much like Ken Scott’s previous film Delivery Man, this has heart but no comedic momentum. Scott brought his appreciation of family drama into a film where it was unwelcome.