Review: Unfinished Business
PLOT: A small-business owner (Vince Vaughn) and his two employees (Tom Wilkinson & Dave Franco) travel to Berlin to pull off a deal that could save their company, only to discover their mean former boss (Sienna Miller) is chasing the same client.
REVIEW: It's a good thing Vince Vaughn has TRUE DETECTIVE on the way because UNFINISHED BUSINESS is without a doubt the movie that stretches his loud-mouth businessman shtick to the absolute breaking point. It's hard to believe that it's come to this as there was a time when Vince Vaughn was one of the most dynamic young actors on the screen. Go back and watch SWINGERS and MADE or even lesser-known titles like RETURN TO PARADISE or THE PRIME GIG. Back in the late-nineties, early-aughts he was the man. What's more the guy was dangerous. Just watch him on his episodes of DINNER FOR FIVE with Jon Favreau and see how expertly he pushes everyone's buttons while still staying likable. The guy had a mouth but he also had style.
Sadly, that flair has been MIA from the big-screen for about a decade now, with him embracing a family friendly formula that's turned him into a slightly edgier Adam Sandler, and played to diminishing returns. FRED CLAUS, the Christmas movie with Reese Witherspoon which I won't even name because it's so bad, COUPLES RETREAT, THE INTERNSHIP aka Google: The Movie, THE WATCH, ugh. It's been rough being a fan of his but each and every time I root for him to pull it off.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS which is so lame a title it feels like it was cribbed from a 90's DTV movie with Roddy Piper and Billy Blanks is an attempt to return Vaughn to his raunchy OLD SCHOOL/ WEDDING CRASHERS days. Yet, this is probably the safest, most milquetoast R-rated comedy I've ever seen. Vaughn basically plays the same smart-mouthed, hard-working, ultimately noble family man he's been playing for ages now, and as such, this feels like a PG comedy with half-a-dozen F-bombs sprinkled in (along with a few penises) to give this some edge. It doesn't work. At least two-thirds of this is a safe, family-friendly comedy with a nice message about cyber-bullying that shows Vaughn as a wonderful dad, but is that what we really want from a hard-R comedy? Where are the shenanigans?
By the time said shenanigans finally start happening, it all feels tacked-on, and Vaughn himself oddly doesn't participate in any of the mischief. All the big moments go to Wilkinson and Franco. Director Ken Scott (who directed the great STARBUCK and its weak American remake with Vaughn THE DELIVERY MAN) takes it for granted that audiences will get a kick out of seeing Wilkinson do bong hits and ecstasy, but these wild bits are few and far between (although Wilkinson seems to be having fun). Dave Franco does his best with a weird role, with it being suggested throughout that he's mentally handicapped, but then having him pull off savant moves, possibly in an effort to make it OK for us to laugh at all the jokes about his low-IQ. Don't worry guys we weren't laughing anyways. One of the only fresh moves is the casting of Sienna Miller as the antagonist Chuck, which is a surprisingly gender-blind part, avoiding any easy jokes about her (extreme) good looks or a tacked-on romance with one of the guys. Sadly, that's about as inspired as this gets.
What's really bizarre is how low-rent it all seems, with weird continuity errors, such as an early scene clearly showing Wilkinson and Franco standing in the rain, but not getting wet, and cutting to a one-shot of Vaughn where it's not raining. It's as if they meant to erase the rain from the first shot but ran out of cash.
Overall there's not much to like here. Really capable comic actors like Nick Frost and How Did This Get Made's June Diane Raphael are wasted in nothing roles, while Vaughn just goes on-and-on in his unfunny, endless riffs that make you wish someone had called cut. This is truly an abysmal vehicle for Vaughn, and hopefully TRUE DETECTIVE and the interesting sounding TERM LIFE will let him reinvent himself as otherwise he seems destined for a bad network sitcom, which is exactly what this feels like.
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