Does Vaughn Truly Have “Unfinished Business”?

By Scott Kurland

Film: Unfinished Business
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Frost, James Marsden, Jun Diane Raphael, and Sienna Miller
Rated R
Director: Ken Scott

In the mid 90s and early 2000s Vince Vaughn was the king of the comedy box office. He was unstoppable and consistently funny, but most importantly he was genuine. Vaughn always played the “real guy”, an average Joe who just wants to slack off and hang with his buddies. Unfortunately for us, as the years rolled on Vaughn’s characters began to lack any tangible form of identity. The decline began with “Four Christmases”, continued on to the “Internship” and  ended with “The Delivery Man”. How could such a talented actor fall so far in such a short amount of time. This week’s film “Unfinished Business” is Vaughn’s attempt to return to the “Old School” film style. Let’s find out if it worked shall we?

Vaughn stars as Dan Trunkman a hard working sales rep for a large corporation. After Dan’s boss Chuck (Sienna Miller) stiffs him on a commission, Dan quits taking two employees with him. First he takes Tim McWinter (Tom Wilkinson), who is 67 years old and starting to show his age. Next there’s Mike Pancake (Dave Franco) a fresh faced go getter....who turns out to be mentally challenged. When Dan’s start up company begins to lose money and go bankrupt, its up to him to make one last effort. What was suppose to be a closing deal with two executives (James Marsden and Nick Frost), turns into a roller coaster of a business trip. As things fall apart abroad for Dan, his home life isn’t much better. His wife (June Diane Raphael) misses him, his son (Britton Sears) is being bullied, and his daughter (Ella Anderson) is fighting with kids at school. Dan has 48 hours to resolve his “Unfinished Business”.

I am a huge fan of Vince Vaughn, I’ve seen everything he’s been in including the remake of “Psycho” and the indie sleeper “A Cool, Dry Place.” I’ve rooted for him in “Dodgeball”. Laughed because of him in “Wedding Crashers” and “Old School”. I even liked his villainous turns in “Anchorman” and “Starsky & Hutch”. However, as of late sitting through Vince Vaughn films is slowly becoming a chore. He’s still the best thing in them, I mean he was the only reason I sat through “The Internship”. The problem is we don’t have that goofy frat boy slacker anymore, most of Vaughn’s “comedic” roles turn out to be kind of serious. It’s also more fun to root for Vaughn when he’s the lovable screwup. With “Unfinished Business” Vaughn is the responsible father who through a series of mishaps is struggling to keep his business and family a float. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound fun, it sounds kind of daunting and painful. Vaughn tries his best, but the source material by Steve Conrad is so depressing.

I have several problems with this film and they all fall on the shoulders of the screenwriter Steve Conrad and director Ken Scott. Conrad wrote “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty”, and pulls the same shenanigans here as he did with that script. Conrad wrote a very misleading script, what was supposed to be a laugh out loud road comedy, quickly turned into a family drama. Dan’s son is being bullied at school because he’s over weight. In turn this leads to his daughter fighting kids who call her brother “fat” and other degrading terms. WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? The movie was suppose to be about Vaughn and his band of misfits trying to close a business deal, and instead we get a very serious storyline wedged in the middle. 

If I’m being perfectly honest, I would have rather seen the family drama movie starring June Diane Raphael’s character. In my opinion she was the best thing in the film besides Vaughn. I wanted to know more about her character, and about how strong she really was. She was the one keeping the family together while Dan was off trying to save his business. To me her story and his story were way more important than Franco’s simple minded business apprentice and Wilkinson’s sexually frustrated old veteran. 

I really didn’t care for this film. Ken Scott’s direction was so misguided. The characters are either too unlikable (why is James Marsden and Sienna Milller always the bad guys?) Or  we get the other extreme which is, they are so innocent we need to root for them out of pity. Somethings I thought were creative like Dan having to stay in a living art exhibit because all the museums are booked. Yet, there was one glaring black mark on this film. This film is truly offensive to the mentally handicapped.

Dave Franco’s Mike turns out to be an idiot savant, and after you leave the film you’ll think about how offensive it is. It’s like what I was saying about extremes, at times Mike is either too slow to understand what imperative means. Then the next scene he is writing out a business proposal with extended annuity and a reassembled business structure? The guy whose last name is Pancake (his choice), just restructured an entire business outline? This is a lovable goof character,  and he isn’t very approachable. They should have written him almost like Spicoli from “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”. Instead, they take a perfectly good actor and belittle him for almost two hours. 

“Unfinished Business” is not a bad film, its a terrible movie. It takes the premise of a road comedy and destroys any possible entertainment and throws it out the window. The actors try their best and for the most part they’re very good. However, the script is misleading to the point of confusion. The dialogue is poorly written and underdeveloped (just like the characters), and worst of all we’ve seen this story a thousand times before. Ken Scott brings nothing new to the table. Steve Conrad continues to win the award for the most perplexing screenwriter of all time. Yet the worst part is how depressing this movie is, the laughs are not earned they’re purely won by being so uncomfortably awkward. This might be the film that pushes Vince Vaughn to explore his talents in different genres like drama or action.

“Unfinished Business” is not worth your time or money. So do yourself a favor and pass on it. Normally, I say wait for rental or blu-ray. Sometimes I say wait for HBO or Showtime, but this time wait for TBS because the commercial breaks might make it entertaining. Whatever you do try to skip “Unfinished Business”.

scott kurlandComment