The Austin Chronicle

Unfinished Business

Rated R, 91 min. Directed by Ken Scott. Starring Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, Nick Frost, James Marsden, June Diane Raphael.

REVIEWED By William Goss, Fri., March 13, 2015

Little did we know in 2005 that Vince Vaughn’s reliably motor-mouthed turn in Wedding Crashers would mark the start of a decadelong descent from America’s wild man into the persona of a suburban schlub just trying to keep up with the times. Roles in Couples Retreat, The Watch, and Delivery Man each reined in his profane Swingers-era swagger, and those vehicles suffered for it. Unfinished Business reunites Vaughn with the director of his most recent dud, and against all odds, it only leaves one longing for that film’s aggressive mediocrity.

Vaughn plays Dan Trunkman, a St. Louis businessman whose Jerry Maguire-like exit from former employer Chuck Portnoy (Miller) has seen little reward in the year after. Alongside the well-aged Tim (Wilkinson) and undereducated Mike (Franco), Dan pins all his hopes on a make-or-break deal that sees the trio traveling from Missouri to Maine and, ultimately, to Berlin in order to fend off renewed competition from Chuck.

Along the way, Dan, Tim, and Mike manage to find themselves in all sorts of shenanigans involving rental cars, nude saunas, and a glory hole or two, and if that weren’t enough, Dan is never terribly far from his wife’s latest FaceTime call, updating him on the pressures faced by their frequently bullied children. Writer Steve Conrad has tackled the burdens of fatherhood (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man) and workplace ennui (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) before, never better than with his overlooked directorial debut, The Promotion, but Business struggles to tell three different stories: one of corporate underdogs, another about raucous adventures abroad, and yet a third about the growing disconnect between a workaholic father and his family.

The crude humor and cloying sentiment mix about as well as motor oil and vinegar, and the jarring tonal shifts would be forgivable if Vaughn and friends ever managed more than the scarce chuckle. Wilkinson’s horny old man is mostly inundated with drink, drugs, and nude women because, hey, that’s the gag, and Franco’s guileless character is established as having an actual mental handicap, pushing his socially stunted interactions past the point of harmless amusement.

Neither can strike the same comedic sparks with Vaughn that fellow wedding crasher Owen Wilson could bring even to the anemic likes of The Internship, leaving him alternately stranded in interactive art exhibits, gay nightclubs, and women’s running clothes as the film banks time and again on arbitrary public discomfort for laughs. Even his rivalry with Chuck fails to muster the most minimal sense of escalating stakes, leaving Miller to grin smugly with their every exchange. Between bouts of hackneyed heart-tugging, Unfinished Business continually imposes its rowdiness upon viewers; the result is about as memorable as an evening spent shitfaced at your local Applebee’s.

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.