I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Cole Clay // Film Critic
Make no mistake, Vince Vaughn (THE INTERNSHIP) is a likable guy, and if this whole acting thing doesn’t work out he’s got a great fall back as a motor-mouthed door-to-door salesman. Vaughn’s mantra hasn’t changed, but instead of slowly getting to a place where he can deliver a nuanced performance, he rattles off nonsensical jargon, trying to search for his next catch-phrase, which has been so “not” money for the past decade.
I had some hope for UNFINISHED BUSINESS, as the cast has the promising comedic chops of Dave Franco (NEIGHBORS), and Tom Wilkinson (THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL), who usually ignites the screen, but not this time. Also, there’s Sienna Miller (AMERICAN SNIPER), who is in comeback mode, in a supporting role as a shrew-y sales competitor. All of these folks hit ground-level with a monstrous thud.
Vaughn plays a down on his luck salesman who takes his only two employees (played by the two gentlemen mentioned above) to Germany in hopes of landing a lucrative business deal that can save his swarf business that probably isn’t worth saving to begin with.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS has Vaughn teaming up again with Ken Scott (DELIVERY MAN) in a rather dubious attempt to show off his sensitive side. The underdog brand of comedy has worked time-and-time again for Vaughn and it’s familiar territory for Scott, but the tired act from the principal cast is the least of this film’s worries.
A dull script by Steve Conrad (THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS) is void of any laughs and is full of narrative deadweight (shame on you Steve Conrad; you’re writing the wrong movie). His writing typically works well with the everyman persona that Vaughn is grasping straws to attain. Check out the underrated 2005 comedy THE WEATHER MAN instead, which just may be Conrad’s best work to date.
Masked underneath the laugh-less and unnecessary R-rating is a comedy about a family man who is dealing with their children being bullied and a massive private school tuition bill. Normally the domestic life of a C-RAZY guy that Vaughn would play is the least interesting aspect of the film, but when his comedic partners (Franco and Wilkinson) fail to do anything remotely classified as comedy the family somehow transcends being more than a peripheral concern.
The film feels embarrassed of itself– when one minute it’s transfixed on family values and the next minute we are Berlin nude-spa and then of course the guys end up at one of the largest gay fetish festivals when they discover Nick Frost (THE WORLD’S END), a potential business ally with his “pants-nose” hanging out at a glory hole. It’s plum stupid and once again void of any laughter. To be a fly-on-the-wall while this screenplay was in development, I can imagine the executives saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Dave Franco inexplicably fell down and went face first into a semi-erect penis?” – – “Yeah, that will really corner the market to wrack up box office sales.” It appears that Vaughn and Scott are trying to say something about how prudish and transparent Americans have become with our lives with this rather superfluous comedy.
The only amusing joke of the movie comes when Vaughn is face-timing his family and when faced with a difficult financial question he forms an elaborate ruse and freezes his face to fabricate the illusion that they have lost connection. But, the only connection that’s lost in UNFINISHED BUSINESS is between the filmmakers and the audience.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS opens tonight.