'Unfinished Business': What the Critics Are Saying
Ken Scott's raucous comedy about a business trip that goes off the rails stars Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco and Tom Wilkinson.
Unfinished Business stars Vince Vaughn as a sales exec who travels to Europe with his two associates (played by Dave Franco and Tom Wilkinson) to close the biggest business deal of their careers. But of course, the trio's business trip goes off the rails and chaos ensues.
New Regency's male-bonding comedy, directed by Ken Scott and written by Steven Conrad, also features Sienna Miller, James Marsden and Nick Frost. Early box-office predictions suggest that the film will match (or gross less than) the dismal numbers of Scott and Vaughn's last film collaboration, Delivery Man, which debuted to $7.9 million.
See what top critics are saying about Unfinished Business:
The Hollywood Reporter's Jon Frosch writes, "Unfinished Business never works up enough momentum to get us into the anarchic spirit of things. The movie unfolds, choppily, as a series of half-hearted set pieces written and directed with little flair or commitment and no connective tissue between them; some of those sequences scarcely run long enough to register, as if the studio couldn’t decide whether or not they were worth keeping in the final cut. ... Vaughn’s work here might be best described as functional — he does a very slight variation on the same persona he’s been playing for years: the brash guy with a heart of gold. As appealing and assured a comic performer as he is, the actor hasn’t stretched or challenged himself in a long time; Unfinished Business makes one hope, more urgently than ever, that he has something else up his sleeve on the next season of True Detective."
Franco's performance may be the only part of the film worth watching. "Speaking in stoner-surfer cadences, his face regularly expanding into an infectiously goofy grin, the actor is the one person onscreen who seems determined to cobble together what little he’s given into a distinctive character. ... As a director, Scott is workmanlike though uninspired, displaying little visual imagination and even less sense of risk. Undemanding audiences may be satisfied, but Unfinished Business is the cinematic equivalent of subpar fast food (think Carl’s Jr. or Jack in the Box): It’s cheap, easy and maybe even tasty for a second or two, but leaves you feeling queasy and undernourished. In other words, take your business elsewhere."
USA Today's Brian Truitt's calls it "a bland road-trip film that falls flat while heaping on the raunchiness. ... There is actually a heartwarming drama about a father and his kids at its heart, but instead Unfinished Business spends too much time on egregiously unfunny jokes involving sexual positions and Fifty Shades of Grey. ... Wilkinson's character is all over the place — wanting a prostitute one minute and fearing for his longterm job prospects the other — and is more sad than whimsical. Three's actually a crowd: A two-handed comedy with Vaughn and Franco would have worked considerably better," though overall, the film "is just bad Business for everyone involved."
New York Daily News' Joe Neumaier notes that the film "squanders almost every opportunity provided by its potentially funny premise" and "becomes yet another blotch on star Vince Vaughn’s résumé. ... Unlike the similar, and superior, Cedar Rapids, this movie is filled with unreal people and has no grounding in reality, so the wild antics seem desperate. Vaughn’s response is to become nearly immobile, turning the angry comic energy he had in Swingers, Wedding Crashers and The Break-Up into lethargy. It’s as if he knows he’s capable of more but can’t rouse himself to participate in such a lame movie. This workplace comedy wants your money but doesn’t give you anything for it. That’s a bad business model no matter what the business is."
New York Post's Kyle Smith says, "That Unfinished Business thinks it’s a really fun idea to have a leading character named Mike Pancake tells you all you need to know. So, someone asks Mike in a meeting, your boss’ name is, what, Steve Toast? Ho, ho. Stop, my ribs are cracking. ... Scott, who guided Vaughn in last year’s flop Delivery Man, has the kind of comic timing you’d expect from a corporate compliance officer’s PowerPoint presentation on updates to Section 1.6045-5 (b) (1) regulations. And Vaughn can’t save his doomed project by being 'Vince Vaughn,' the motormouthed charmer who is automatically funny if this is still 2005."
The Washington Post's Michael O'Sullivan says that the film is a "pleasant surprise," writing, "While by no means a masterpiece, the comedy … is a careful calibration of crass gags and genuine sentiment that succeeds more often than it fails. It’s hard to imagine a movie that combines a scene set in a gay sex club (featuring numerous shots of male genitalia) with a subplot about parenting, but Unfinished Business is that thing. Somehow, it works." Scott "knows how to mine genuine sweetness, even out of the most vulgar material" and although the film "swerves and wobbles at times, Scott has an assured hand on the wheel. This hybrid vehicle may take an unwise detour here and there — even hitting a mud-filled pothole or two — but in the end you just might find that it’s been an entertaining ride."