Starring: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco
Director: Ken Scott
Running Time: 90 mins
Unfinished Business is an American film about three businessmen who travel to Berlin in order to complete a deal that’s been in the works for a year. However, when a bigger competitor shows up on the scene, all their hard work looks to be undone, leaving them on the business trip from hell.
When this film came out, it was annihilated by critics. For me, it isn’t quite so bad, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good. While it proves a moderately entertaining comedy at times, it’s full of horrible mistakes ranging from a misplaced dramatic story, poor performances and some very irritating humour, all of which undo the entire film from being a simple turn-your-brain-off extravaganza.
Let’s start off with the performances. In general, the acting here isn’t anything particularly stellar, but the likes of Vince Vaughn, Sienna Miller and Nick Frost are perfectly acceptable. The problems come when the two supporting characters, played by Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco show up on the scene.
Now, it’s undoubtedly an issue of writing and directing as well, but that doesn’t mean Wilkinson and Franco are blameless for some pretty shoddy acting. On the one hand, Wilkinson plays an aged businessman who still lives with a desire for exciting encounters while on business. The problem is, that joke is used to death very early on in the movie, and Wilkinson presents the man in more than a weird, but rather unlikable and dull way, making it an unenjoyable joke that just gets worse throughout.
But even worse than that is Dave Franco’s performance. He’s impressed in a lot of other comedies as an entertaining actor, but this turn is a far cry from that. He plays a timid and awkward young man called Mike Pancake (a joke that’s fun for about a second), but with such a forced and irritating acting style. Clearly receiving poor direction from Ken Scott, Franco’s slow, whiny and stupid character is a car crash every time he speaks. It’s not cringeworthy in any comedic sense, but rather like the feeling of a knife being slowly twisted in your ear as he whines on with no laughs at all coming as a result.
The other big issue with this film is its dramatic side. Now, I’m all for comedies trying to have a little bit of heart, and going for a perfectly noble cause, I thought that Unfinished Business could pull it off too, but that just isn’t the case. Centring on topics such as bullying, family life and the effects of a father always being away on business, the film goes out of its way to be serious and sensitive to those issues.
And while that’s a noble intention, sticking random bits of surprisingly heavy drama in the middle of a chaotic comedy movie really doesn’t work. Every time that we break away from the main story to watch a conversation between Vince Vaughn and his family back home, the atmosphere of the entire film changes in an insanely abrupt instant, and makes any drama following feel excessively forced, and as such unconvincing and uninteresting.
When it comes to positives, I can say that I didn’t have a bad time watching Unfinished Business. It’s by no means a good film, and everyone involved has done better, but nor is it an excruciating car crash. It’s sufficiently fast-paced and chaotic enough, with a few good jokes thrown in here and there, to keep you engaged. As such, I didn’t come out hating this movie, just disappointed with the various glaring mistakes that it makes, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.5 overall.