Unfinished Business is a messy work trip
It doesn’t take long — maybe 10 minutes in — to realize Unfinished Business was a seriously bad investment.
Sure, it’s got all the shiny amenities to sucker you in to giving it a chance — Vince Vaughn leading a potentially inspired trio of rising star Dave Franco and two-time Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson as businessmen going on a wild road trip to secure a deal — but it quickly becomes clear that the film just has a promising premise and little else to offer especially laughs.
While the trailers try to sell the film as a cross between Old School [Blu-ray] and Road Trip [Blu-ray], it’s hardly the raucous anything can happen spectacle promised. Instead it’s more about Vaughn’s character, Dan Trunkman, traveling worldwide to improve the quality of life for his family, which is unraveling back home as his son, Paul (Britton Sear), is getting bullied; his daughter, Bess (Ella Anderson), is getting into fights and his wife (June Diane Raphael) is pressuring him to enroll the kids into private school.
Director Ken Scott (Delivery Man) and screenwriter Steve Conrad ignore Rule No. 1 for a classic guy’s comedy — leave the wife and kids at home. Dan’s objective is clear: seal the deal to provide for the family, but the filmmakers feel the need to constantly reinforce what’s driving him to succeed and that reminder only serves to be a buzz kill for the comedy.
It also cheats what should be the film’s focus: Dan racking up frequent flier miles with his employees, the not ready for retirement Timothy McWinters (Wilkinson, Selma) and meek inexperienced Mike Pancake (Dave Franco) in a frantic attempt to keep their company afloat. Complicating matters is Dan’s chief rival and former boss, Chuck (Sienna Miller, American Sniper) is also negotiating and has a history with the corporate executive (James Marsden) and his assistant (Nick Frost).
Conrad, who previously explored themes of family, job satisfaction and the workplace in The Promotion, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Pursuit of Happyness, is out of his element in trying to pen a comedy Vaughn’s fanbase would expect.
While Vaughn is years removed from his Swingers, Wedding Crashers heyday, given decent material he can still leave fans doubled over in laughter. Here you’ll be lucky to get a few chuckles.
Too much of the film feels like just going through the motions so moments that in more capable hands could work like the group’s unexpected trip to a sex fetish event or Dan finding himself as part of a living art exhibit fall flat. Other scenes such as the wild night of partying are way too cliche and the frequent nudity comes across as more desperate than edgy.
Equally frustrating, Scott doesn’t do nearly enough to take advantage of his cast’s talents. Franco, a frequent scene-stealer in Neighbors, is wasted as the group idiot and not the out of control wildcard the group dynamic needed. Wilkinson also needed more to do than to just be the horny old guy. His character definitely gets shortchanged with so much emphasis on Dan’s family, likewise for Marsden, Miller and Frost, who offer glimpses of their characters’ potential, but don’t get time to develop them.
Too crude to be taken seriously and too family-focused to be a guilty pleasure, Unfinished Business is one company retreat you’ll want to skip.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Photo Credit: Jessica Miglio/20th Century Fox