Unfinished Business (2015)
Release Date: March 6th, 2015 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ken Scott Actors: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, June Diane Raphael, Nick Frost, James Marsden, Kasia Malinowska
iscomposed over the continual pay cuts and disrespect from his condescending boss Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller), Daniel Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) leaves the established Dynamic Progressive Systems firm to start his own, independent, mineral sales company. Facing a rocky start, the new Apex Select nevertheless manages to score a big contract – negotiated for nearly a year – that will lift them out of bankruptcy. Daniel, along with his two employees, old-timer Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and youngster Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), head to Portland, Maine to meet with their monumental client and seal the deal. When unexpected competition threatens to derail their much-needed financial arrangement, the oddball trio decides to fly to Germany to see if they can sway the top big wigs to their side. But to win back their most valuable customer, the fearless Apex crew must brave art museum hotels, giant hamster balls, massive fetish parties, and much more in the wildest, wackiest business trip of their lives.
“Unfinished Business” begins with one of the coldest cold opens in the history of the filmic gimmick, thrusting audiences into an unruly spat between soon-to-be competitors, without any care for developing rivalry or work relationships or backstories. But perhaps it’s better that way, cutting out all the unnecessary setup to get right to the punchline – which is what the entire film is essentially based on. Strangely enough, for a film that intends to be concise, it then proceeds to be anything but fast-paced.
The premise is an excuse for the typical underdog team to break out of their humdrum routines for a shockingly fantastical comeback. Mike is cripplingly shy and borderline mentally incompetent; Tim is elderly and disgruntled but still has a bit of fight left in him; and Dan is the overconfident leader, forced to keep everyone in line and on track. It’s the little guys versus the cutthroat megacorporation, with the odds stacked up against a group that desperately needs a win. Very much following the inspirational sports drama formula, Trunkman’s players must go above and beyond to outsmart the opponents and win the contract. Along the way, they’re faced with plenty of obstacles and upsets … and glory holes.
But instead of sticking with the story that works – a raunchy comedy riddled with uncomfortable nakedness, sex jokes, and worldly experimentations (“Just stay here and don’t do any more weird shit!”) – the movie stumbles into other, less suitable terrain. Apparently unable to sustain 90 minutes with shenanigans that include Mike’s inability to function like a human adult (inexplicably, though they’ve known each other for more than a year, Tim and Dan appear shocked by Mike’s failure to effectively communicate), drug trips, wild partying, and heavy drinking, “Unfinished Business” tosses in subplots of familial drama. Money problems for a private school, weight issues, and online bullying are potent themes that make an appearance yet don’t mesh well with the madcap misadventures. These are further supplemented by commentary on social media, fitting in, competition, parenting, bonding, and individualism. The added predicaments and half-developed ideas are intrusive, interruptive, and unrealistic – especially when they bookend scenes of celebratory substance abuse and graphic nudity.
Tom Wilkinson is cast extremely against type for an immediately refreshing aspect. But the foul language, off-color quips, and out-of-his-element carousing are underused to the point that any older actor could have assumed the role with just as much impact. It’s a terribly wasted opportunity for far edgier laughs. Frano’s too-stupid-to-exist turn becomes the more memorable part, possessing a certain charm through his substantial ineptitude in navigating life itself – though it’s never explained how he could usefully contribute to the analytical and mathematical components of spreadsheets and flow charts or why his powerlessness over the English language didn’t previously interfere with his work.
– The Massie Twins