Monday, March 9, 2015

Review 288: "Unfinished Business"

Best business trip ever.
Not even remotely close.


      Can we just get Vince Vaughn to stop? I mean, it can't be hard, right? This more was critical panned and it's a huge bomb, the worst debut for a film in Vince Vaughn's career yet. And with good reason. Make no mistakes, this movies suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucks. It literally has me wondering if it might not be one of the worst movies ever made. I don't know if people remember this, but way back when I said the thing that made a movie one of the worst ever, for me at least, was not being outright awful, but by being bad and so utterly devoid of any real substance, good or bad, that it's almost like the movies doesn't even exist. It's why I maintain that that the 1989 version of The Punisher is still the worst movie I ever reviewed for this site. though this one seems like it's daring only to match the black hole of nothingness that Punisher excelled at.
      The plot is meandering and often pointless, but her for the most part what the film is about. Directed by Ken Scott, who also directed fellow Vaughn bomb Delivery Man and written by Steve Conrad, who also wrote The Pursuit of Happyness (...okay), follows Dan (Vince Vaughn), a businessman who quits working for Chuck (Sienna Miller) to start his own company with his only two employees, Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike (Dave Franco). With the company on the verge of bankruptcy, the trio head to Germany to seal the deal of a... business deal for a company lead by James Marsden and Nick Frost. However, they find that Chuck is also three looking to make the deal and soon it's a race through protests, gay festivals, bars, crappy hotels and actual races in order to be the company that makes the deal.
      The problem with Unfinished Business is simple enough on the outside, but more interestingly messed up on the inside and no I won't make a joke about whichever celebrity is falling apart this week. Simply put, despite the marketing proclaiming the the characters need to "lose their shit" and the poster showcasing booze, drugs, injuries, a man in leather and hot chicks, the film is actually laughably tame. Much like Delivery Man, the film tries and massively fails to have a heart and message, make Vince Vaughn a nice guy and still be raunchy.
      A lot of this problem falls onto the shoulders of Vaughn. Unlike other movies of the genre, in which a character with an obvious flaw must deal with said flaw in order to succeed, Vaughn' character here is set up without any major flaws. Once again, it seems Vaughn wants to come off as a great guy, marked by the fact that here, his character's flaw is that he's a workaholic. But he's never punished for that. The movie tries to have the message that he needs to loosen up to make this deal happen, but that's completely untrue, as Vaughn never loosens up and the day is ultimately saved because Vaughn is a good worker. his character goes through no really change during the film and ends up just a one-note loser by the end.
      It doesn't even make much sense within the plot itself. Vaughn and his company are meant to be the underdogs here going up against Sienna Miller's Goliath. however, since the movie fails to give Vaughn an actual flaw, his company ends up, as we are told pretty quickly, the better company. So if Vaughn and Co. are better the Miller, why does the deal get rejected the first time through and why are they the underdogs, other than Marsden's character being a dick and the movie telling us their underdogs because they're weird. Even the ending, wherein Vaughn brave a total of one obstacle in order make his deal (A protest that's hinted at throughout the film but never explained) happen and after one 5 minute meeting and showing that he's "loosened up" by saying the f-word a few times, they get the deal. What a goddamn anticlimax.
      The film might have worked if it was funny, but of course this movie's not. It's not even painful there just aren't jokes. The movie tries hard to mine humor out of Wilkinson and Franco, because god forbid Vince Vaughn get laughed at, but ultimately the film feels like it's just mocking the elderly with Wilkinson's character, as if he's meant to be funny only because he's an old dude that still wants to have sex. Even worse is Franco's character, who the film makes the massive mistake of explaining is mental handicapped and as a result, makes all the times we are expected to laugh at him for being "stupid" completely aggravating. Especially how unrelentlessness it is and how the film expects us to be okay with it because they show that he succeeds... in having sex. Because that's all that matters! Right, because was are raunchy!
      It's the film isn't. The actual party scenes and big raunchy moments are so laughable tame, especially faced with all we've seen these last few years, that much of the humor of this film feels like it's the equivalent of of a six-grader laughing at the word "penis". Until they actually have a scene in a gay bar that has glory holes because apparently just the mere sight of a penis brings Vince Vaughn to tears. From laughing, that is. And what's even worse is that fact that, baffilingly, the film adds in a bizarre subplot about Vaughn's kids both being bullied and being a bully (Though it's obvious she's not). The sappy way the film handles the scenes with Vaughn's bullied son creates jarring tonal shifts from scene to scene, as the film is edited so haphazardly that things often just seem to happen for no reason. And the film's ultimate stance on bullying (Ignore it and be yourself) is undercut, given that, were asked to feel bad that Vaughn's son is mocked for being fat, then immediately asked to laugh at Franco's mentally handicapped character for being "stupid". It's downright insulting.
      Unfinished Business is a movie that's bound to be on a number of worst lists at the end of the year and there's a damn good reason for it. The film is filled with terrible, one-note characters that we are supposed to believe are underdogs despite their success. On top of that, the lack of humor and raunchiness keeps the film consistently boring as all hell, at least when you don't wanting to punch it in the face for asking us to accept a completely out-of-place anti-bullying storyline, despite the near constant mocking of the mental handicapped, gay people and Europeans that the film deems okay to laugh at. I think it's time to end the deal with Vince Vaughn. maybe then he might say something funny.

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