Rating: 4 out of 10
Vince Vaughn as Dan Trunkman
Directed by Ken Scott
After quitting his job, Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) tries to set up his own company along with a duo of cast-offs (Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco), but a year later, the business still hasn’t gotten off the ground until Dan is ready to sign a lucrlative deal, which requires them to fly to Germany to shake hands on it.
At a certain point, you have to think that Vince Vaughn has just given up on trying, because if he is indeed trying in his latest attempt at comedy then I’d hate to see a movie when Vaughn is phoning it in. Reuniting with his Delivery Man director Ken Scott, Vaughn may have thought he was pushing the boundaries with this R-rated comedy, but all he’s doing is pushing his fans further away from wanting to see his movies.
The film starts with Vaughn’s Dan Trunkman—even that name seems lazy!—facing off against his office manager, Chuck Portnoy, an attractive blonde woman played by Sienna Miller as a twist. He storms out and decides to start his own company, but the only coworkers that join him are Tom Wilkinson’s Tim, who has been retired because he’s too old, and a naïve job applicant played by Dave Franco. This business is bound to fail, but somehow they’re still trying a year later, working out of a Dunkin Donuts (due to their free Wi-Fi, maybe?) until they finally get a big break in a deal that’s ready to close. But first, they have to travel to Portland and then Berlin to shake hands, a formality but one that’s taken seriously in the business world.
That’s pretty much the plot, but it takes a long time to set it up with Vaughn spouting a lot of numbers and business jargon about why his deal is better than his former company’s. When you consider how well a movie like The Hangover worked by the way it put a complimentary group of actors into a simple comedy premise, at least on paper Unfinished Business should work, except that its first major faux pas was casting Vince Vaughn over any number of funnier actors and then not putting him in situations that are necessarily funny in themselves. A GPS system that only says one thing in German only goes so far, as does having him living in an art installation as “American Businessman 45,” but they do their best to milk both situations for laughs that aren’t deserved. Giving Vaughn kids who are dealing with bullying at school is a weak attempt at trying to gain undeserved sympathy for his character from the audience.
On the other hand, there’s definitely something funny in seeing a normally serious dramatic actor like Tom Wilkinson swearing, doing drugs and chasing after women… but only for a few minutes. It’s not something that can sustain laughs for very long and it’s not something that we hasn’t been done before, which also supports the laziness of the filmmakers in doing more with their acting talent.
If you’ve seen the commercials, then you’ve probably seen the only funny five or six minutes of the movie, the best laughs revolving around the name of Dave Franco’s character, Mike Pancake, and his sexual inexperience. Franco is unquestionably the standout of the film, but his dim-witted innocence also only goes so far. You might think that more could be done with him being impaled by a dart, but that’s not the case. That’s really it with that joke.
Similarly, one might think that Nick Frost would be better than the material which has him hanging out (quite literally!) in the men’s room at a gay club, but that’s the low hanging fruit (ha ha) that the filmmakers are constantly trying to grab rather than trying to come up with anything clever or original. Sienna Miller, unrecognizable only because it’s such a different role for her, and James Marsden, playing the corporate jerk who gives Dan and his friends the run-around, are both decidedly okay despite the weak material.
Maybe realizing the mistake of limiting Vaughn with a PG-13 rating in The Internship, Unfinished Business goes too far in the other direction, finding any excuse for him to use the F-word even when it’s unnecessary to the point of being awkward. Like everything else, having the freedom of an R rating doesn’t mean the filmmakers are going to use it to get better laughs. In fact, it’s the opposite.
As hard as it is to believe, this is worse than some of Vaughn’s other recent comedies, making you wonder whether the problem is Vaughn or just his bad taste in material. In either case, we’re going to assume this bad movie is solely due to Vaughn’s inability to realize he needs to take a break and spare audiences from more of his lazy attempt to hack out comedies.
The Bottom Line:
Maybe Unfinished Business had some potential for someone to greenlight it, but other than Vaughn’s castmates, who are often dragged down by his antics, good luck trying to figure out why anyone thought this might make a funny movie. If Unfinished Business represents Vince Vaughn’s desperate attempt to run whatever’s left of his career into the toilet, then we can safely say that he’s indeed finished.