Monday, March 9, 2015



Director: Ken Scott.
Writer: Steven Conrad.
Actor: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco and Sienna Miller.

This review originally ran at Central Track

UNFINISHED BUSINESS is one of those movies where it's not hard to see what the people behind the film are trying to accomplish. Unfortunately, it's also one of those films where the execution of that clear aim is way off the mark.
Also? It's predictable and, worse, it's unintentionally comedic at times.
Here's the deal: We've seen this film many times before. In other words, yup, it's another movie starring Vince Vaughn playing the typical Vince Vaughn role. This time, he's Dan Trunkman, a high-rolling salesman for a metals supply company with a future to call his own on his mind. Fed up with the grind of working for a bigger corporation, he tries to strike out on his own with a ragtag group of followers named Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike (Dave Franco). Along the way, we follow the ups and the many downs of this trio as they try to close in on the biggest score their fledgling company's ever seen.
To be frank: There really aren't too many honest-to-goodness strengths to this movie. The closest thing it has to a saving grace is the at-times charming comedic chemistry of its leads.
All three of these characters are at different points in their lives, and those differences are the basis the majority of the film's too-few laughs. Tim's an old man who's been around the block a couple of times and has a jaded attitude as a result. Dan is still very much the go-getter type, practicing his speeches all while trying to keep his shit together. And then there's Mike, who's both the funniest and the most troubling part of the movie: He's a sweet and insanely awkward guy just starting his first "adult" job and he gets some of the film's most memorable lines.
But here's why Mike's character isn't so great: UNFINISHED BUSINESS all but explicitly states that Mike is autistic -- and, while the movie seems to change gears a very little bit once that truth comes to light, it still implores audiences to laugh at him rather than with him. So, sure, he says some funny things here and there. And then you realize what's going on, and it just feels dirty. Franco's not to blame for any of this, of course. His performance is seriously amazing when you compare it to his other roles -- it's tough to believe, for instance, that this is the same guy from NEIGHBORS. But his Mike is constantly the butt of the jokes here -- and, almost exclusively, it's because of his intelligence and/or his mannerisms.
Also gross? There's just an insane amount of product placement going on in here. Look: We know that financing movies sucks nowadays and that you have to get your bills paid where you can. But you have to do it gracefully. The fact that our leads' fledgling company offices inside of a Dunkin Donuts is fine. Having one of these characters praise the use of a certain app to find a hotel is another thing altogether. Same goes for when Dan takes off some of his fancy shoes and the camera lingers on the logo for an extra second or so. Maybe this wouldn't be so noticeable if this wasn't a film that's trying to cultivate an anti-corporation message. But that's exactly what this film is trying to do, and moments like these just undermine that whole effort.
Meanwhile, don't even get me started on whatever the hell this film is trying to do with Dan's family. They're tossed in to represent some sort of anti-bullying theme, and it's all very weird, and they only show up at the most inconvenient times. Their screen time is wholly wasted.
In the end, none of these elements come together. The story is weak and flimsy, the movie is constantly at odds with its themes and even the well-executed jokes come with concern. The leads are strong, but their talents are wasted.
Unless you're desperate to catch a matinee or out of Netflix options a couple of years from now, don't let UNFINISHED BUSINESS waste your time, too.

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