With Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Birdman” and Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” recently dominating the Academy Awards, it’s clear that comedies are currently thriving in Hollywood. With that being said, I apologize that those two incredible films are being mentioned anywhere near Vince Vaughn’s latest comedy, “Unfinished Business”. Before we go any further let’s just take a second to address the pun you probably will read in any review of this mess: “Unfinished Business” is a film that should have been left unfinished.
You know you’re in for a rough ninety minutes when the very first scene already molds an unlikable main character. Dan Truckman (played by Vince Vaughn) angrily quits his job and recruits two other men struggling to find work (played by Dave Franco and Tom Wilkinson) to start their own company. Don’t be mistaken, the film cuts in and Vince Vaugh is already in the middle of arguing with his boss; there was no lead in whatsoever and it is one of the sloppiest openings I’ve seen on screen in a while. The premise of the film is then that the trio needs to close an important deal in Europe… and that’s it. The title is literally “Unfinished Business” and I have no clue what their business was even about. It’s pacing is so off that I was often more bored then entertained; a clear sign that a comedy has failed its purpose. The jokes are unfunny and even seemed to hinder scenes that might have otherwise had potential. I noticed that one joke in particular was taken directly from Louis C.K.’s 2011 stand-up special at the Beacon Theater, and I know this is a cliché, but all of the (somewhat) funny jokes were in the trailer. The unoriginality does not stop here, as the script is painfully formulaic and unfunny, and at some points it was so predictable that I could guess what lines were going to be said next. It lacked all aspects necessary to create a film worth investing in.
What the movie does not lack in at all, however, is nudity. Two scenes jump out at me in particular; the first is when Vince Vaughn first arrives in Germany and has a meeting with an important businesswoman (any further detail was skimmed right over). Inexplicably, Vince Vaughn barges in on her while she in nude in a communal sauna and she insists that she cannot negotiate until Vince Vaughn strips down to nothing but bare skin as well. And so he does. There are also dozens of nude extras (that just happen to all be female) in the background as this “gag” is unraveling. Another scene is involves Nick Frost’s character prepared at a glory hole (I’m sorry, I don’t have it in me to explain what that is here) when Vince Vaughn realizes it is him. There are actually close-ups of his genitalia as the two discuss business. The strangest part, however, is that Dave Franco’s character decides to shake Nick Frost’s penis since he has never met him before. Suddenly he slips, and his face meets the genitalia instead…I’m not even joking. This followed by a horrendously overdone partying montage; I thought it was going to end after the first song was over. Then I thought it was going to end after the second song was over. It lasted for three songs, however, packing in as many unfunny jokes in this generous amount of time as it could.
Unquestionably one of the other most bizarre aspects of the movie is the forced familial problems that Vince Vaughn must deal with. At one point, he catches his son in the middle of masturbating and it turns into a somewhat funny, awkward scene that would have been fine on its own. Instead, after Vince Vaughn leaves, we’re forced to stay in the room with the son as he resumes. I actually turned to my friend and whispered, “are you kidding me?.” Of course, the sad music kicks in and we are somehow supposed to empathize with a supporting character we’ve just been introduced to. It’s so out of nowhere that I picture the screenwriter looking at the already completed script and thinking “Hmmm, I think this needs a little more heart”. The bullying issue pops up a few more times in between the other scenes of nudity, drugs, and sex.
Somewhat surprisingly, however, the funniest character of the three businessmen (who’s name evades me already since the film was so forgettable) is played by Dave Franco. He certainly has a good comedic streak going for him after other supporting roles in “21 Jump Street” and “Neighbors.” Still, it is an extremely one dimensional role in which he is so obviously the stereotypical “dumb friend” that his humor loses it’s value well before the credits role. Honestly, I’m trying to think of a bigger idiot of a character from any film right now and I’ve got nothing. The other caricature is played by Tom Wilkinson’s, whose only comedic value branches off of the fact that he is old and trying to act young. In between the two of them is Vince Vaughn. Although he was not absolutely terrible, it’s disappointing to witness him accepting one-dimensional roles within laughably incoherent scripts. He was recently cast in one of the best current television series, “True Detective,” so there’s no question that he has talent as an actor. Unfortunately, there’s relatively no sign of it here.
If you’re in the mood to watch a funny Vince Vaughn-led movie, do yourself a favor and rewatch “Dodgeball.” If you want to watch an entertaining comedy led by a trio of males, go ahead and revisit “The Hangover.” If you want to watch a decent movie in general, just stay as far away from “Unfinished Business” as possible.
Review by Harrison Jeffs