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Friday, March 20, 2015

Unfinished Business 2015 * * Stars

Unfinished BusinessDirector: Ken Scott
Year: 2015
Rated R
Rating: * * Stars
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller

An iPad video of a young girl beating the crap out of an Indian boy, a character named Mike Pancake, a sequence involving frontal nudity via the washroom glory holes at a German gay bar, and a weird obsession with the wheelbarrow sex position. That is what you get with 2015's Unfinished Business, an ill-defined comedy that although entertaining in spots, ultimately begins and ends with a thud. It's Vince Vaughn's latest and after taking in a viewing, I realized one thing: if you eliminate the first two letters from the title and omit "business", well you're left with one word. That word in a nutshell, would best be used to describe Vaughn's current career path as an actor.

Strutting its first ten minutes as a faintly homage to Jerry Maguire and scripted by Steve Conrad (he penned The Pursuit of Happyness) who undeniably should know better, this ninety minute vehicle is billed as comedic despite not having any real, hearty guffaws. The story begins with husband, father, and all around good guy Dan Trunkman (Vaughn). He just quit his job because his boss (played by female starlet Sienna Miller whose actual character's name is Chuck) is hellbent on giving him a pay cut. In retaliation, he starts his own company with two nincompoop associates. They are in the form of a mentally distraught Foot Locker employee (the aforementioned Mike Pancake played by Dave Franco) and a perverted, weed-toking 67 year old (Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson who was obviously blackmailed into taking on the role of Timothy McWinters). After being in business together for one year, they finally get the deal of a lifetime. First, they have to fly Portland, Maine before eventually hightailing it to Berlin to get quote unquote, "the handshake". All this and their office is still at a Dunkin' Donuts location (whatevs).

Now for the life of me, I couldn't really figure out what Vaughn's Trunkman did for a living. Conrad's screenplay masks those intricacies or any other talks about important ventures. He eradicates the research needed to script a business trip comedy and instead concentrates on the crass humor. Almost every cast member says the word "numbers" to make it sound like they're in the zone. And the charts shown in meeting rooms are from a distance so you can't really see what's being talked about. Balderdash I tell you. Pure claptrap.

Added to that, Unfinished Business being rated R, tries to be a cute family film. This makes it uneven and lopsided. In between scenes of Trunkman having long distance skype sessions with his kids, are other scenes where characters say f*** this and f*** that. Oh and there's one sequence involving countless images of naked breasts in a unisex bathhouse. Yeah that was shocking about thirty years ago (filmwise) but it's still out of place and happenstance.

In the arena of acting, it ain't stupendous but it's actually a surprise to see Vince Vaughn play a more mature, more seasoned role (as opposed to the manchild ones he's been inhabiting for the last ten years). This time everyone involved lets him down (who'd have thunk it). His turn is above the proceedings and it belongs in something else, something better. Yeah, there's plenty of Vaughnisms to go around (fast talking, ad-libbing, him taking off his shirt) but he holds back a little bit more this time. Thank the Lord. As for the other performances, well they're one note at best. You have a good cast here embarrassing themselves at director Ken Scott's every expense. Dave Franco is the worst of the bunch. His Pancake just bugged me. I didn't get him and his tone is so darn grating that the way he speaks, will cause you to grit your teeth in anger. One minute he's blurting out something that's moderately intelligent. The next minute he's acting like a five year old who sounds like his nose is all plugged up. Is this guy for real or what?

Oh and I almost forgot, there's the ending to Unfinished Business. It's so muted, so anticlimactic, just so blase blase. There is an antagonist and a protagonist in this thing. But when the good guys win, there's no celebration, no real confrontation with the bad guys (in this case, it's the evil business owners being Chuck Portnoy and Jim Spinch played by James Marsden). I've literally felt more emotion during a session of cutting my toenails.

Anyway, if you wanna spend ten bucks (or whatever the inflated price of a movie ticket is these days) at the local megaplex, see an Oscar holdover like Whiplash. If you wanna view something that's uninteresting, unsatisfactory, unnecessary, and uncouth, check out Unfinished Business. Sadly, it's a middle-of-the-road madcap at best.

Of note: Germany is an interesting country. I'm half German but unfortunately, I've never been there. Vaughn's character stays in a hotel in Berlin that's also a museum (all the other ones are booked for the night). It's a comedic gag that almost falls flat. The room has no curtains, people can walk by and look at him, and they can also hear what he says through headphones. I know it's only a movie but is this really a thing? Just curious.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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