Film review: Unfinished Business is a bit like watching paint dry

Simon Thomson
Vince Vaughn in Unfinished Business

Cert 15 | ★★☆☆☆

Unfinished Business might sound like a badass film in which Charles Bronson guns down the fat-cats whose corporate greed killed his daughter, but sadly it’s about Vince Vaughn (pictured), Tom Wilkinson and James Franco’s little brother trying to score a contract to sell metal shavings to a multinational conglomerate. It’s not exactly like watching paint dry, but it’s very similar.
The good points are the location filming in Berlin, and the supporting players, especially the amiable Nick Frost and smarmy James Marsden. Sienna Miller is also decent enough as the ostensible villain, though it’s a pity that in her first comedy, she is left playing a straight-woman. The three heroes make the best of a poorly paced, laughless script, which provides an irrelevant sub-plot for Vaughn’s Dan Trunkman (dealing with the bullying of his obese son), but little of substance for Wilkinson or Franco.
People complain about obviously formulaic comedies, but comedies where the formula has been misapplied are worse. Unfinished Business is too conventional to pass for a quirky dramedy; too flimsy for a drama; and, despite the drug use and copious but ineptly shoehorned nudity, it is too timid – and just plain unfunny – for a raucous, gross-out comedy.
There is a running joke about one of the characters having the surname “Pancake”. But the general tenor of the ‘humour’ is exemplified by producer Todd Black’s observation that, “The joke was having this short, pear-shaped man with a large penis.” So if that’s something you find hilarious then you might just enjoy Unfinished Business, but most viewers will struggle to find anything to justify the price of admission.

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