Unfinished Business

Vince Vaughn in Unfinished Business (20th Century Fox)
Vince Vaughn in Unfinished Business (20th Century Fox)

What it's about:

A middle-aged entrepreneur is one deal away from finally turning his nascent business viable. All he needs is that one “handshake”. But when his old employer sets her sights on the same deal, he and his two employees head off on a world-wide business trip to get that increasingly elusive “handshake”.

What we thought:

After having already reviewed Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and Get Hard, I'm running out of things to say about terrible, one-star Hollywood comedies. It's slightly better than Paul Blart and slightly worse than Get Hard and if the idea of one of these things coming out once a year wasn't bad enough, trying to deal with three of them in all of two weeks is almost too much to handle.

Like the others, Unfinished Business' biggest crime is just how staggeringly unfunny it is. Vince Vaughn hasn't been good in years, it's true, but with a supporting cast that includes people like Tom Wilkinson, James Marsden and, most importantly, Nick Frost, you should surely be able to count on a couple of laughs along the way and at least just a hint of comedy. Well, you would be wrong.

While Frost elevates things very slightly with his typically likeable screen presence but even he isn't actually funny. But if Frost comes out of this mess still looking pretty much OK, the same can't really be said of the film's two major supporting stars. Dave Franco has had some bad roles in the past but his allegedly “sweet” simpleton character here is nothing short of an embarrassment. Tom Wilkinson, however, fares even worse and he genuinely does look embarrassed in his role as a sad sex-obsessed pensioner.

This is also one of those truly dreadful comedies that tries to have it all by being both a low-brow and very raunchy sex comedy and a sweet family drama. Neither work at all on their own, as the former is, as mentioned, simply not funny, while the latter tries to tackle a serious subject like bullying but is mostly just a gooey sentimental embarrassment. “Embarrassment”: that's really the name of the game here, isn't it? Unfinished Business may not be as stupid as Paul Blart or as offensively wrong-headed as Get Hard but it's both shameful and ashamed of itself in a way that the other two aren't. It's crap, basically, but it doesn't even have the audacity to at least have the courage of its convictions.
Anyway, if the comedy and the sentiment don't work on their own, they're a thousand times worse when juxtaposed against one another. It's bad enough that the sentimentality is entirely unearned and handled with all the subtlety of a bad TV movie of the week (an over-egged score rules the day, once again) but when you place that next to a succession of dick jokes that may have the dicks (in at least two senses of the word) but are seriously lacking in the jokes, it just looks all the more ham-fisted and lame as a result.

Even Vince Vaughn looks terribly bored here and if the tone of my review seems resigned, rather than enraged after having already spent my anger on Paul Blart 2 and Get Hard, that's nothing in comparison to the “how the hell did I get here” feel of Vaughn's performance. His normal babbling delivery is less manic than usual but if that's supposed to be a conscious choice to allow his comedy the room to breathe, rather than just abject weariness in the face of a string of terrible comedies, it certainly doesn't feel that way.   

Of course, considering Unfinished Business's terrible performance at the box office internationally, it seems like audiences are right there with its star. And it's really about time too.

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