Director: Ken Scott
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco
Release Date: 6th March 2015 (UK)
Vince Vaughn and Dave Franco usually play to a certain type, and though Unfinished Business was a very typical film for these two comedy actors, they played against type for something that felt both comfortable and surprising. It’s the chilli chocolate of films, but it doesn’t make you vomit.
Vauhgn plays Dan Trunkman – a name that lends itself without subtlety or shame to a character who spends most of his life on the road for a top sales company. But Trunkman also has a wife and two kids, and he want to support them. However, demands for a pay rise meet a hostile reaction from boss Sienna Miller, and in the heat of the moment he storms out determined to make it on his own. Enter Tom Wilkinson and Franco, an involuntary retiree and a shy, borderline simple failed interviewee. Trunkman takes them under his wing and the mini gang of misfits get started on their empire.
This rapid set up lasted just five minutes, making you wonder how this film can possibly maintain its pace and keep you interested for another hour and a half. However, a seemingly brief first act is actually not over at all. The turning point in this narrative is the revelation that both Apex and Trunkman’s former employer are both competing for the same sale, one which they believed was in the bag.
Here’s where the real poignancy in the plot is triggered, as this turning point draws exposition from all three characters. Vaughn wants to send his teenage Son to private school to stop his bullying, Wilkinson wants to divorce his wife and live a happy retirement, and Franco just wants some life experience. Now the three must travel to Berlin, and suddenly this one deal has become a genuine matter of life and death.
Ken Scott does have some issues with pacing, but patiently created a layered and rewarding comedy, building one-liners and set pieces over a relatable story. The three protagonists create characters for every generation, and did so with care. Neither one is given more or less screen time than expected, and none were too stereotyped.
As a comedy there was something missing to propel it from the ranks of enjoyable Sunday night movie to modern classic, but it still delivers on almost every angle, from the poignancy of Vince Vaughn’s quest to make his family happy to the childlike hilariousness of a character called Mike Pancake. Say it and don’t laugh, we dare you.
The end is hardly full of surprises, but like all Vince Vaughn films, seeing his character in genuine anguish at the end is probably not worth the terrible acting necessary. Luckily, they stick to what they do best and the result is a lovely comedy that is largely family friendly, barring a few questionable scenes about mid way through.
Unfinished Business is available on DVD and Blu-ray from 13th June 2015, and you really should watch it.