There are more penises on display in Unfinished Business than there were in Fifty Shades of Grey. Just let that sink in for a minute… That fact is one of the few interesting things there is to say about the new R-rated comedy starring Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, and Tom Wilkinson. Why so many penis jokes? Because in a comedy that has no idea what it’s trying to be, has no clue how to effectively incorporate a storyline about bullying, and thinks that making one of the leads a person with a developmental disability whose inability to understand complex words is a running punchline, throwing in a few penises is a way to get an easy laugh.
Unfinished Business is a throw-away late-night cable movie that somehow, most likely because of Vince Vaughn in the starring role, was given a theatrical release despite the fact it’s a disjointed mess. There’s a feeling of incompleteness about the film, and that’s not just an easy reference to the movie’s title. Is it a road-trip comedy similar to The Hangover, which it seems to attempt to be at times? Or, maybe a sweet family film with gross-out jokes thrown in for good measure? What it’s not is a comedy with many laughs.
The film finds Vaughn, Franco, and Wilkinson’s characters taking on a much bigger corporation as they attempt to book clients for their fledgling business. Don’t ask what the company actually does because it’s not important, just know that it was formed after Vaughn’s character, Dan, had a Jerry Maguire moment, quit his job, screamed at his boss (Sienna Miller), and stormed out of the office asking anyone who wanted to forge a new path to follow him. His only takers were Timothy (Wilkinson), who was actually just fired because of his age, and Mike Pancake (Franco) who’s lugging around a box of belongings not because he wanted to follow Dan but because he took the box with him to the office to interview for a job he didn’t get.
A year into their new venture, they still haven’t scored a big client but hopes are high that they’re just a handshake away from being able to pay their bills. And what will they do with that money if it comes through? Dan will send his son who’s being bullied because of this weight to a private school, because apparently that’s how you deal with bullying. Mike’s motivations aren’t quite so clear, while Timothy wants to divorce his wife (who he compares in physical appearance to a vending machine) so he can have sex with lots of women in different positions (the ‘wheelbarrow’ option is a running gag, along with Mike’s breakfast food last name). So off the threesome head to various locations including Berlin during Oktoberfest, the G8 Summit, and a huge gay festival that leaves the hotels booked and the guys scrounging for rooms. Will they sign the deal and earn enough money to save the company and fulfill their dreams? The cheats incorporated in the script to even give the guys a chance to do so are so outlandish and manipulative they completely negate everything the film’s laid out about the main characters over it’s first hour.
The Bottom Line:
Why anyone thought it was a good idea to reveal Dave Franco’s character was developmentally disabled and living in a group home, and then continue to use him as the butt of jokes about his inability to comprehend what other characters are saying is beyond me. It’s also difficult to understand how that character can’t tell the difference between a square and a rectangle but later is able to pull together spreadsheets and budget projections that save the company. It would have been better to leave the character as naive and innocent instead of making the audience uneasy by continuously poking fun at this earnest guy who just wants to be included in the group.
Unfinished Business is all over the place, never finishing any one storyline as it careens aimlessly toward a predictable ending. The scatter-shot approach to this R-rated comedy leaves little room for any one character to develop while, unfortunately, weaving running gags throughout that don’t deserve repeated attention. Given the low bar this one sets, you won’t have to look far for a smarter roadtrip comedy more worthy of your time and attention.
MPAA rating: R for some strong risqué sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use
Release date: March 6, 2015
Running time: 91 minutes
Directed by: Ken Scott
-By Rebecca Murray
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