Vaughn plays Dan Trunkman, who quits his job following a disagreement with his boss Chuck (Sienna Miller), and so begins his own company, joining forces with the almost-retired Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and the blissfully guileless Mike Pancake (Dave Franco). After a year with little fortune, Dan heads off to Berlin to meet Jim Spinch (James Marsden) to close the biggest deal in their short history – though he’s completely unaware of all of the exploits, misdemeanours and disasters that await the trio on this seemingly straightforward business trip.
With any disaster comedy of this ilk, whereby our protagonists get themselves in all sorts of trouble across the movie, it needs to have a flow to it, for the situations to be presented with a minimum contrivance – and Unfinished Business could not be further away from that, with the madcap series of mishaps feeling so forced upon the characters. There’s no rhythm and nothing falls naturally into place – like a good episode of Seinfeld accomplishes in a third of the time. Dan has to meet an associate and it just happens to be in a nude sauna – cue him having to take his clothes off, just for a joke about testicles to be written in.
You don’t care about the narrative either, as whether these three characters can conclude this meeting with a handshake means nothing to us at all. It doesn’t help that the antagonist – who is effectively Dan’s competitor for the deal, Chuck – is not in any way spiteful or vindictive enough, and you even find yourself liking her, appreciating her as one of the most normal characters in this damn thing. Vaughn does impress however, playing that same role as always, as it seems that, irrespective of the screenplay, he has a way with words, a fluency to his dialogue that can entrance the viewer. He’d make one of hell of a salesman – in real life. Franco provides the very few laughs that do exist however, playing a different role but carrying it well, as the heartbeat to this movie.
However like with any heartbeat, it must stop eventually, and in Unfinished Business that moment where you realise it’s all over comes far too soon into proceedings. Scott’s inclination for mawkish poignancy falls flat too, as attempting to be profound is not something the filmmaker has earned at all. It would appear that Dunkin’ Donuts had earned a few spots of product placement however, though why you’d want to be associated with this offensively unfunny comedy really is beyond me.