Unfinished Business (2015) Review
It’s a rare thing for me to hate a movie so intensely while watching it, but within half an hour Vince Vaughan’s latest ‘comedy vehicle’ had me surreptitiously checking IMDB on my phone to see what the running time was. If it had been anything more than the 91 [excruciating] minutes listed, I may have walked out of a film voluntarily for the first time ever, bringing a very literal meaning to “Unfinished Business”.
Clumsy and crass, this abrasive comedy telling the story of an independent sales firm’s attempt to close the biggest deal of their lives ends up just being an unfocussed and jumbled assembly of bad characterisation, stupidity, broken narrative threads, nudity, drugs and dick jokes. It feels, at times, like director Ken Scott is trying to channel something akin to the zany, free-wheeling goofball comedies of the 1980’s but the problem is you can’t just prop up a lacklustre and misfiring comedy by showing more fleshy bits.
Taking the title literally, it’s not just the business: everything feels unfinished, especially the script and the editing. Not that the film needed to dwell on it, but we never get a clear idea of what our heroes are actually trying to do apart from the fact it has something to do with scrap metal. The plot lumbers from one bolted on comic crisis to the next, always feeling artificial and forced.
Sometimes, the leads’ charm can rescue even a woe begotten mess like this but of all the glib, fast-talking, heart-of-gold hustlers Vince Vaughan has played, Daniel Trunkman is easily the most soulless of them all. We know nothing about him at the beginning of the film and we know nothing about him at the end, nor do we really care. We get the fact that he’s a driven salesman but not whether he’s actually any good at being a salesman, or is a nice guy. He has a family at home who have some issues but again their stories aren’t really developed except as an excuse to allow Vaughan to do some monologuing and cover up the gaping holes in the script’s storytelling.
Nobody in this film has done anything to deserve being in a mess like this. As far as Tom Wilkinson, Nick Frost and James Marsden go, I can only assume the script ‘read as funny’ because they’re all better than this. James Franco actually manages to do some interesting work with his character, finding room for some subtlety in the gradual reveal of his character in amongst all the sex jokes, although it doesn’t prevent the eventual reveal from feeling kind of offensive anyway. Sienna Miller simply doesn’t fit the film at all, despite being involved in the opening scenes. In fact, her scenes (and some of Marsden’s) feel more like scenes added after the rest of the film was finished, perhaps to add in at least one female character who wasn’t just some tits and ass to dress up the background.
There are one or two moments in “Unfinished Business” that elicit a chuckle and you can tell the cast are doing their best they can. Sometimes you can even catch a glimpse of the film this might have been had the writing and direction been better but there’s just no redeeming this boorish, mean-spirited mess of a movie. It would have been better for all concerned if this had been “Unreleased Business”.