UNFINISHED BUSINESS Review

What is Vince Vaughn doing with his time? Was making Delivery Man such a great experience and one that ultimately garnered him the profits and adulation he so desires that he thought following it up with another collaboration with the director was the way to go? He might have had a good time making the movie, sure, and I liked it more than most probably because I still like Vaughn more than most, but if Delivery Man was anything to the public it was an insignificant comedy that has already been forgotten and it isn't hard to see the same fate happening to this second collaboration between the actor and Ken Scott. Unfinished Business is a comedy you'd hardly recognize as such because it feels so half-baked, but regardless I can't help but to feel Vaughn is giving it his all here despite having to know that the story is paper thin and his supporting characters (sans Dave Franco) are a far cry from those he once surrounded himself with in Swingers and Wedding Crashers. Much like Adam Sandler, Vaughn has become a comedian no one expects much from anymore, but continue to tolerate because he has a relatability factor and is inherently charming with his fast-talking comedic style endearing him to many who now try to resist. It would be easy to go the contrarian route with a movie like Unfinished Business due to the fact there is a semblance of something more at the core of this fluff, but it is all too half-assed and slight to actually be anything of note. Not only is this a movie that fails to be entertaining half of the time, but it offers nothing new or insightful in terms of corporate America, the working class or even the stiff that has been so spread thin he forgets to stop and appreciate the good things in life that Vaughn has now played a total number of I've lost count he's done it so much. I want to like what Vaughn does with his precious time and I want to trust (like I do with Sandler) that he wants to be better than this; that he craves to create something substantial in a comedy that truly brings a smile to peoples faces that they continue to quote for years after its release, but what he's doing lately with that precious time seems to be little more than wasting it on dreck like this.  

Written by Steve Conrad who actually has a list of interesting credits to his name including The Weather Man, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and intentionally or not makes for our first insight into why the biggest idea in Unifinished Business is the struggle of the middle-aged man trying to find his footing. It is seemingly all Conrad has written about (he even wrote the 2008 film The Promotion with Sean William Scott and John C. Reilly that revolved around two average joe's vying for the titular step-up at their grocery store) and while the main objective with this film seemed to be to make it a ridiculous comedy it's clear Conrad's default is writing characters who deal in the doldrums of the day to day life who haven't yet learned that the days are long but the years are short. This is encapsulated fully by Vaughn's Dan Trunkman, a hard-working small business owner who recently broke away from the prison of big corporations in order to give himself a shot at being his own boss. He is currently in charge of two subordinates in the form of the elder Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and fresh-faced Mike Pancake (Franco). Struggling to compete with the bigger companies such as the one he quit from, Vaughn and his associates travel to Europe to close the "one big deal that will save them all." Naturally, things don't go as planned, but rather there are so many random stopping blocks and obstacles along the way that the business deal becomes of less and less importance not to mention the fact we never really learn in what business these guys are dealing in bar the one small reference in a scene that feels as oddly out of place as the one before and after it. This is supposed to be a movie where the business trip goes so off the rails it brings the three musketeers closer together indicating their future to be a bright and secure one, but the movie itself is so incoherent and random it feels as if Conrad wrote it while on a trip like this and decided not to go past the first draft.

Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn)
do whatever it takes to close a critical business deal.
If there is one saving grace to the proceedings it is the performance of Dave Franco. The character of Mike Pancake deserves so much better it makes the fact Unfinished Business isn't very funny even worse. In fact, it's kind of sad and disappointing that this endearing portrayal by Franco will go largely unseen because it really does highlight his ability to deliver the goods as far as comedy is concerned. Almost as bad is the missed opportunity with Wilkinson as I actually really like the idea of these three vastly different guys at different stages of their lives going in together on a wacky adventure with the bonus of each being portrayed by solid actors. And yet, Wilkinson does little more than say a few dirty lines and talk about boobs which is supposed to shock us, but doesn't...not really. The rest of the cast that features the likes of June Diane Raphael, James Marsden, Sienna Miller and Nick Frost have little else to do as the movie knows not what to do with them. Miller seems largely miscast in a ridiculous role that we don't buy for a minute while Marsden must be hard pressed for work if he's taking this and Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Both Raphael and Frost seem to know they're funnier than this material, but they hang out and do what they can while being asked to perform perversely sexual gags that largely have no context and seem so forced it's more awkward than funny. Most of the jokes here have to deal with sexuality, sexual orientation or plain ol' boobs and penises in one way or another as if that is the only thing Conrad could think of that would make people laugh. Most of these so-called jokes 1) don't fit with the established personality of the character and 2) don't actually do their jobs of making us laugh. One example being a random phone call from Dan's wife where she begins to touch herself and happens to be on speaker phone that figures nowhere into the story or her character and yet it is shoved in here in hopes of getting a chuckle. Depressing.

All that aside, at least this feels more like an actual movie than the garbage that was Hot Tub Time Machine 2. And, if you somehow wind up seeing Unfinished Business at least you will have the opportunity to see a Dave Franco performance for the books if not another Vince Vaughn performance where he pulls the same, down on his luck routine that represents big, mean corporate America versus the little guy where he somehow manages to come out on top. Granted, there are a few layers to his character and dammit if Vaughn doesn't actually seem committed to creating some real sympathy for this guy. Maybe I see this because I like Vaughn and I want him to succeed or maybe, hopefully, I'm simply giving credit where it's due. Regardless, the one thing I know for sure is that it's time for Vaughn to try something new.