Poverty sucks, but hey, at least you’ve got plenty of weed.
After refusing to take a pay-cut from his boss (Sienna Miller), salesman Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) decides that it’s his time to finally cut himself loose and break off on his own. Problem is, Dan doesn’t have much of a team. Though he gets two misfits in the form of the aging, semi-retired Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and the silly, but very naive Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), Dan still can’t seem to catch much of a break. Not to mention, there’s a lot of problems going on at home where his kids are the subject of bullying and, in a way to avoid any further mishaps, Dan’s trying to save up more and more money so that he can send his kids away to a nice, safe and bully-free private school. Once again, though, it’s all a matter of money with Dan, so that’s why when he and his gang get a chance to fly out to Berlin to possibly sell their product, swarf, to the highest bidder, he takes it. He’s not sure if it’s all going to work out, but what he does know is that he is not going to back down from any obstacle thrown in his way – even if Berlin offers up more of them than he ever expected.
In a little less than a week, season two of True Detective will set upon us and while many are looking forward to seeing the new sets of characters, story-lines, and setting, the one element I am mostly anticipating is seeing what Vince Vaughn can do in one of the lead roles. Because, see, even though some may not know this, Vaughn actually got his start in dramatic flicks, where he played some very serious and odd individuals, rather than just being the swift, quick-talking, smart-ass that every R-rated mainstream comedy seems to cast for the hopes of any possible laughter whatsoever.
He was Norman Bates for gosh sakes!
But even though I have yet to see a single lick of True Detective, something makes me feel as if Vaughn will blow us away. In nearly a decade since Into the Wild, we’ll see Vince Vaughn challenge himself and go deeper and darker with a role that he was once able to pull off; sure, the movies that he was participating in may not have been stellar, but there’s no denying that Vaughn came ready to play, ready to challenge himself, and ready to see if he could make movies better. You could make the argument that Vaughn’s been doing that for the past couple of years, but if you look at the movies he’s been doing it, it becomes clear that they’re way too often reliant on him, that if you were to eliminate him from the respective movie altogether, they would be absolute piles of dog excrement. They would be unfunny, stupid and lacking any sort of energy.
Sort of like what Unfinished Business is with Vaughn in it.
The main problem with this flick here is that it feels so generic and conventional, that eventually, once we get to any parts of it that may be at least somewhat riveting or fun to watch, it feels even worse. It’s one thing to have a movie that’s so utterly and completely crappy, that nothing in it could be looked at as mildly interesting, at best; then again, it’s a whole other thing completely when you have a movie that’s garbage, but still seems to hold some promise deep down from within. Because the promise is wasted on something that’s junk, it makes it seem like a waste, as if any other movie could have swooped-in, taken the idea and ran wild with it.
Problem is, Unfinished Business has so very few of these moments. There’s plenty of scenes that take place in German gay club that all prominently feature male genitalia in all of their bulgiest form, and there’s a hotel room that soon turns into a hotel expo idea that’s pretty nifty and entertaining to watch, even if it is the only thing in the whole movie. Other than these two elements, everything else about this movie feels like a bore. Most jokes miss completely, whereas others plop right down on the ground, moving around frantically for any sort of air, and then die right in front of your own ears and eyes before you could even recognize that a joke was even made.
See, Unfinished Business is the type of comedy that’s not at all funny, but the same time, still tries to be more than what it is. There are many, and I do repeat, many, scenes dedicated to Vaughn skyping with his wife and kids, discussing all sorts of melodramatic family stuff that would probably be suited best in an after-school special that’s about bullying and acceptance. However, here it all feels so oddly-placed that it seems like an after thought altogether; while director Ken Scott may have wanted there to be more heart and humanity added to the proceedings as a way to balance out all of the dicks and balls, it just feels messy and uneven.
And this isn’t to say that the cast should be held fully accountable for this, because most of them do seem to be trying. It made me very upset to see such a talented and lovely actor like Tom Wilkinson take this paycheck gig and just run through the motions as the “aging horn-dog” of the group, but eventually, I realized that he’s got plenty more movies coming up to where I need not worry about all of that. Then, there’s Dave Franco as Mike Pancake (yup, his actual name), a character who seems to be bordering on the line of “mentally challenged”, but the movie never makes its mind up as to what he actually is, nor does it know whether it wants to laugh with him, or at him. Either way, it’s incredibly uncomfortable to sit and listen to, and while I credit Dave Franco for at least trying to stand out a bit and take on something new, it still doesn’t go anywhere.
And then, there’s Vince Vaughn.
Obviously I’ve talked about him enough times here to where it’s become fully clear that I have it out for this dude, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I like Vince Vaughn; normally, he’s funny in everything he shows up in. The movies themselves could be nearly unwatchable, except for the moments that he showed up and did “his thing”. That I have no problem with, except for the fact that it’s a role that seems to be so overdone now, it’s stale; no longer does anybody want to watch as a Vince Vaughn character faces off against all sorts of adversity standing in his way, only to then have him make some smart-ass remarks about a fellow person, love and care for his family, and all of a sudden, have everything turn out alright for him. By now, it’s like the guy’s gotten so comfortable, that he’s become dull – a term that I never thought I’d use in the same sentence when speaking of Vaughn.
But hey, at least True Detective is coming soon. Be prepared, people.
Consensus: An uneven mess, Unfinished Business has no clue what it wants to be, what it’s about, who it’s for, and especially, how it’s trying to be funny, chalking this up to being another formulaic vehicle for Vince Vaughn.
2 / 10