Sometimes, films are unjustly judged, and others, popular opinion needs to be challenged. Either way, this will almost definitely be Unpopularity Content.
When it comes to comedy blockbusters, few actors have enjoyed such consistent success as Vince Vaughn. Since the late ’90s, he’s been a near-constant comedic presence in Hollywood, with no real signs of slowing down. However, his movies have since become much less high-profile – like, for example, 2015’s Unfinished Business.
Vaughn stars as Dan Trunkman, a family man who leaves his high-pressure sales position at a soulless corporation to start his own rival business. Taking on the inexperienced Mike (Dave Franco) and the seasoned but clueless Tim (Tom Wilkinson), Dan’s own company, Apex Select, gets off to a shaky start. With their future hinged on winning a single deal away from their former employer, the three men set off on a truly disastrous business trip.
Alongside Vaughn, Wilkinson, and Franco, Unfinished Business boasts an impressive supporting cast. Sienna Miller appears as Chuck Portnoy, their former boss, and James Marsden and Nick Frost as the impossible-to-please businessmen Dan is desperately trying to woo. However, despite its solid cast, the critical consensus on Unfinished Business was not good. Is it really as bad as all that, though?
Unfinished Business Delivers Some Laughs, But It’s Still Unapologetically Dumb
Vince Vaughn may have proved he’s one of Hollywood’s underrated actors, but Unfinished Business does nothing with his talents. His leading performance is exactly the sort of sympathetic fast-talking comedy that he’s delivered countless times before, giving the film an instant air of the unremarkable. Franco is funny, although his intellectually-challenged character is specifically written to be the butt of several tasteless jokes. Wilkinson is simply given relatively little to do, and his age is repeatedly milked for laughs.
Despite many of its jokes being a case of low-hanging fruit, Unfinished Business does manage a few genuine laughs. It’s a film of simplicity, and though this does actually deliver some comedy, it’s in fleeting moments amongst an otherwise contrived story. There are numerous plot threads that go absolutely nowhere, and more that pay off in the most undeserved ways. For example, it expects its audience to believe that Berlin is hosting a gay fetish convention, the G8 Summit, Oktoberfest, and a city-wide marathon all within the span of a few days. It also shoehorns in Dan running the marathon with very little exposition, then never mentions it again. But for all its shortcomings, there’s still something sweet at work within the film’s story.
Unfinished Business‘s ending is touching, even though the film is thoroughly idiotic. Somehow, Vaughn’s everyman charms win out again – despite the fact that Dan Trunkman has essentially no substance, we’re still glad he gets a happy ending. It’s an ending that’s every bit as brainless as the rest of the film, and that’s oddly fitting.
Basically, Unfinished Business is not a good film. However, it’s not entirely bad, either: its stars are likeable and it manages to elicit at least a few laughs. Even so, it’s not one we’d recommend adding to the watchlist.
Summary: Unfinished Business is one of those comedies that favours jokes over reasonable plot, and it suffers for it. Even so, it’s got likeable characters and a few laughs, so it’s not a total waste.
Highlight: There’s a sweet and slightly miscommunicated message about persistence and keeping sight of what’s important. That’s the only thing that prevents Unfinished Business from descending into utter nonsense, so it really stands out.