DIRECTED BY Ken Scott
STARS Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson
Vince Vaughn in Unfinished Business (Photo: Fox)
Sentimentality has no place in raunchy comedies, and many a movie of this nature has gone down in flames when, after we're presented with 100 nonstop minutes of odious characters and gross-out gags, we're suddenly asked to give a damn about these slobs. It happens repeatedly (e.g. Tammy, The Hangover, just about any Adam Sandler flick), as the scriptwriters go soft and include a faux-meaningful ending in a misguided effort to add what they believe is heft but is really just b.s.
But what if the sentimentality is there from the very start? That's the angle taken by Unfinished Business, a hard-R comedy that at least makes an attempt to present us with real people rather than just receptacles for dick-and-puke jokes. Right from the beginning, we see that Dan Trunkman (Vince Vaughn) is an honorable family man with a loving wife (June Diane Raphael) and two insecure kids (Britton Sear and Ella Anderson), one of whom is having an especially hard time since his portly body makes him a prime target for bullies. Whereas most movies of this ilk would trot the kids out as a climactic dog and pony show, this one is quick to acknowledge their presence — and, more importantly, their influence on the protagonist.
Of course, let's not get carried away — it's not like we're talking Little House on the Prairie warmth here. Trying to get his own business off the ground requires Dan and his only employees, the elderly — and randy — Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson) and the young — and dim-witted — Mike Pancake (a funny Dave Franco), to travel to Berlin, whereupon they become involved in a series of misadventures involving glory holes, awkward sexual positions (specifically, the wheelbarrow), reefer madness at a youth hostel, and driving on the Autobahn (or, as Kraftwerk famously put it, "Wir fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn"). Some of it is amusing, much of it is trite, but at least the film doesn't go out of its way to insult our intelligence.