We meet salesman Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) as he is telling off his boss Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller) one last time before walking out on his job. Tired of getting screwed on commissions, he decides to go it alone, recruiting a couple of other disgruntled men in the parking lot with their cardboard boxes. There’s forced-into-retirement Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and wet-behind-the-ears Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), who is sweet, but may not be the brightest tool in the shed. One year later, in their “office” of the local Dunkin’ Donuts, they are on the verge of “the handshake”–a sealed deal that will allow them to survive as a company. But they have to go to Berlin to get said handshake, and find themselve competing against their old firm. Oh, and hard partying ensues, because that is, of course, what people do on business trips.
As Vince Vaughn ages, he is evolving into an amiable, kind of squishy-sweet everyman. And you know what? I kind of like that. As Dan, he is a Good Dad, helping out (as best he can) when his overweight teen son is bullied, and when his young daughter gets into her own trouble. The movie implies that if dad were just home, and not on business trips, this would all work itself out, because that is real life (whatever). But the family plot means well, and also explains how Dan is a responsible Good Boss and caretaker to Tim and Mike, feeling responsible for their jobs as well.
But that squishy-sweet part of the film is only part of Unfinished Business. The rest of it is a broad, raunchy, and uneven comedy. Tom Wilkinson isn’t given much to work with, except that he is unhappy with his wife, supposedly explaining why this 67-year-old business man is hiring a sex maid, partying with hostelers, taking drugs, and clubbing. Mike Pancake (the joke of his name is clubbed to death) is both funny and perplexing. He speaks softly, hesitantly, and ungrammatically, often with a big, sweet grin. It’s explained that he lives in an adult home (a kind of uncomfortable point simultaneously played for laughs and sympathy). His miscomprehension of the sexual “wheelbarrow position” comes up many (unfunny) times, and seems like it is from a different, not very funny college comedy. But Franco’s Mike gets many of the funniest scenes, including tripping so that his face lands on a penis (hard to explain… but yes, funny).
Vince Vaughn continues his trend of making comedies (Delivery Man and The Internship are a couple more) that are good for a few laughs but not for much else. Unfinished Business won’t be remembered as a hilarious raunch-fest, or even a good family movie. But by attempting to straddle somewhere between, it excels at neither, and unfortunately becomes Forgettable Business.