Movie Review: ‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS’ – Void of Any Laughter


Cole Clay // Film Critic

Director: Ken Scott
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson, Sienna Miller, Nick Frost and James Marsden

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.

The cast of UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

The cast of UNFINISHED BUSINESS. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

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.



About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.