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“Unfinished Business” movie review

By Jeff Boudreaux

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Vince Vaughn re-teams with Ken Scott, the director of 2013’s “Delivery Man,” for this comedy written by Steven Conrad, who judging from his credits (Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, The Pursuit of Happyness), has decided to take the low road here. It’s not that this film is without laughs, it does manage to squeeze out a few chuckles, but unfortunately they’re a little too scattered.

“Unfinished Business” opens with corporate salesman Daniel Trunkman (Vaughn) deciding to go into business for himself, instead of having to answer to his needling boss “Chuck” (Sienna Miller), for every little reason. Vowing to become a viable rival to Chuck, Trunkman enlists his over-the-hill co-worker Timothy (Tom Wilkinson) and the ridiculously named Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), a young, nearly-retarded man who lives in a halfway house. After a year of meeting in their ersatz office, the local Dunkin’ Donuts, the trio are afforded a feasible business opportunity that requires the men to undergo a business trip to Germany.

While in Deutschland, the three misfits are given the run-around by unscrupulous business magnate Jim Spinch (James Marsden), and also find that they have Chuck to compete with as well, who intends on acquiring “the handshake” (or deal) before they do. Because the contract is held up for longer than expected, the three guys must contend with less than stellar accommodations, a city-wide marathon, a gay pride festival, and a riotous global economic summit. Sounds like fun, right?

Well, it should be. You either like Vince Vaughn or you hate him, and I am firmly a fan. I like his brand of humor, but unfortunately he doesn’t get to shine here as much as I would like. Combine that with unfunny moments involving Tom Wilkinson’s new-lease-on-life (i.e. bong-smoking and unexplored sex fetishes) and Dave Franco in one of the most annoying characterizations that I can remember in a very long time. This guy couldn’t function on the clean-up crew at a fast food restaurant, much less as an integral third of a small business that actually intends to go places. As a result, Vince Vaughn provides most of the laughs here as a veritable straight-man to the other two buffoons.

Believe it or not there are some inspired scenes here, such as Vaughn’s character having to book a room that turns out to be a live-art installation! Or instances that also integrate the businessmen into the riot outside of the building where their business meeting just happens to take place.  There’s also an uproarious scene in a nightclub bathroom during the gay-pride festival that I doubt will keep many “straight-faces,” no pun intended. British comedian Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Paul) offers solid support here as pride-goer and business ally Bill Whimsley, whom the boys will have to rely on to meet Spinch’s business partner (i.e. the guy that counts)!

Because this is a Vince Vaughn movie, there is a Chaplin-esque attempt at pathos that he administers to his audience at various times throughout the course of this film. Most of it consists of his long-distance relationship with his wife and two kids, the latter of which are going through some tough bullying incidents at school. The fact that Vaughn can convey a heartfelt moment with his son and daughter through the limits of a laptop screen (thereby projected onto a movie screen) is a testament to not only his charisma, but also one of the exceptional moments that we know screenwriter Steven Conrad has been capable of all along. As a result, it’s another reason why I cannot truly condemn this film.

** (two out of four stars)

 

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