Unfinished Business is an unfunny experience
Unfinished, unpolished, and unacceptably bad, with misfires on all fronts.
It’s rare for a film to come along and be consistent from head to toe. Which makes Unfinished Business a true feat when you realize just what a failure of a film it is on every conceivable level.
Unfinished Business is the new “comedy” from the director of Delivery Man, and the writer of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (those words should be enough to get your spidey sense tingling). Vince Vaughn is Dan Trunkman, a fast talking salesman of some sort (the film never really explains what he does very well … something with numbers and making deals). The film opens on him having a heated discussion with his boss (played by Sienna Miller) over a five percent cut back to his salary. Long story short, Trunkman thinks he can start his own business and do a better job than his jerk of a boss. He then does his best Jerry Maguire tribute when he starts asking who will go with him and ends up alone in the parking lot. There he bumps into Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson), who coincidentally has just been forced into retirement, as well as Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), a young enthusiastic but dim applicant who has just been turned down for a job. Of course Vaughn’s character hires them both and they get to work.
From there on forward we are exposed to some of the worst writing, lazy filmmaking, and oddest tone you might ever find in a major studio release. From the start we get an odd and overbearing five-minute Dunkin Donuts product placement, Vaughn sets a meeting with his staff at Dunkin, and there are several shots prominently featuring their logo including an establishing shot of the building’s outside sign that lingers far longer than needed. The movie’s logic immediately starts falling apart at this point. We are taken to one year later and see that our three leads are not having as much luck as they had hoped, but what sticks out more is that they also apparently know next to nothing about each other. Every piece of information we learn about them through the movie is a complete revelation to the other two. Somehow, while working side by side, the only three people running an upstart company, and they managed to learn next to nothing about each other.
Fortunately everything that defines these characters is two-dimensional and often cringe inducing so at least they didn’t miss out on anything important. Wilkinson’s character is an old horny man with a filthy mouth who wants to make enough money so that he can divorce his wife who is “the shape of a vending machine.” He constantly wants to see naked women, get trashed on booze and drugs, and curses nonstop. Of course we’re supposed to think it’s cute … ’cause he’s old! Franco’s character is defined by two things. First, his last name is Pancake, and apparently everyone they meet think that’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. Second is that he’s mentally challenged. Yes, like literally he went to a special school and lives in a special facility. This fact doesn’t come up to his colleagues for over a year! Vaughn’s character is, well, the same character Vince Vaughn plays in every single movie. Except here he is somehow both a workaholic father who doesn’t notice the trouble his kids are having at school (another cyberbullying subplot, as is all the rage these days), yet the film also shows him constantly Facetiming with his family on the road. So we’re supposed to think he doesn’t know what’s going on but that he’s still a good dad.
Through a series of convoluted and frankly stupid events, the three must travel to Germany to close the one big deal that can save their company and send Vaughn’s oldest child to a private school where kids hopefully will stop picking on him for his weight. Once they arrive, it’s offhandedly said that the G8 summit, a gay and fetish festival, and a marathon are all happening the very same week. Hmm, I wonder if those will come into play somehow? Spoiler alert: they do, in the most forced and ham-fisted ways.
From here there is just scene after scene of unfunny, overly vulgar, and distasteful situations. Also from the previews you would assume a little swearing and some crude situations but the amount of nudity in the film is extremely surprising and used in ways that are the definition of gratuitous. Worst of all, none of it is funny. The “high point,” as I imagine the writers saw it, is a scene during the fetish festival where they use the bathroom at a gay nightclub. There they find four gloryholes along with four gentleman waiting for service behind said holes. Even after Vaughn explains he’s just looking for a friend, they stay as they are and have a five-minute conversation with cutaways to each man’s genitals as they speak. It actually gets worse from there, but I’ll leave that to your imaginations.
The production itself seems to have been plagued by either laziness, lack of budget, or even lack of talent. Some scenes early in the film appeared blurry or shot on a low-grade camera. Some of the same scenes had lighting that stuck out as blatantly fake. There were also two glaring continuity issues in the film. One being when the leads get off a train, bright sunny day, cut to the building they arrive at, still sunny mind you, and their shoulders have been noticeably rained on between the two shots. While it’s possible there was a scene cut out that explains this, in the film it just looks like sloppy filmmaking. The second issue is Vaughn is shown driving to the airport for his big trip, but when he arrives back to the airport his family has his car and is there to pick him up.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. When looking for negatives, this film comes fully stocked. I would say I chuckled three times over the excruciating ninety minute run time. Needless to say the cast and crew obviously cared little to nothing about the making of Unfinished Business and you as the viewing public should concern yourself even less with experiencing its failures.