Sometimes I’m too lazy for a full-out piece. Sometimes everything I’ve got to say about a film can be summarized in a sentence or two. Sometimes it’s both. So herewith, a quick-n-dirty on Unfinished Business!
Nutshell: I’d give Unfinished Business a C. It starts off wanting to be The Hangover, gains momentum by trying to be Road Trip, and then finishes off by attempting Office Space mixed with family bonding and anti-bullying tidbits. Toss in touches of The Odd Couple, Crosby & Hope’s Road films, and innumerable other buddy movie tidbits, and you get a an offbeat, off-color, strangely sweet mess that doesn’t quite know what to make of itself. “Best Business Trip Ever”? Not by a long shot.
Before: This trailer looks like a danger sign flashing in neon. Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here. Well, it’s a 4pm screening. Why not?
During: Office Space frak-tha-boss opening! Seen this before! Two Three guys that couldn’t be more opposite having to travel together for Thanksgiving a business trip! Seen this before! Hey! Nick Frost! I like Nick Frost! Maybe I should slow down on the Good-n-Plentys. Way too many exclamation points. But this film wants to grab you and shake you around so you chirp out biff-boom-pow like a superhero. However, even with all the dongs — equal rights!?! — I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. The story is simple; three guys form their own business and head to Germany to try to nail down a deal that will save their company. But the plot (how they get from beginning to end of said story) is a total mess. Hamburg, Berlin, an obnoxious ex-boss, weird hostel roommates, art installations, a fetish bar/glory-hole-palooza (hence the dongs), kids being bullied…whoa. Did anyone look at the script and think “structure is in order here”? Nope. But on the plus side, Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco as the three Amigos businessmen look like they’re having a blast. James Marsden and Sienna Miller (as business honcho and ex-boss), however, look pained. Hope their paycheck cleared.
After: Strangely enough, the sweet bits with Vaughn’s overworked schlub connecting with his kids stuck with me longer than the business trip strangeness. So did the feeling that the screenwriters and director threw away tons of chances to make this a better movie by throwing away promising sub-plots and failing to spin well done gags into something more. Instead, they went with the cheap shots, and stuck to beating the same three jokes to death over and over again. Kudos for the Bullying Is Bad Y’all messages, and for the moments where Vaughn’s character genuinely cares about and emotionally supports his two tweens. But Unfinished Business is a jumble; it’s as if the powers that be crammed everything they thought was funny in 8th grade into one movie, sent the editor out for donuts, and locked the door behind him.