'Unfinished Business' is indeed unfinished

Vince Vaughn is a rare bright spot in the laugh-free comedy 'Unfinished Business'

The piece of business that's most unfinished in the desperate comedy "Unfinished Business" is the wan hodgepodge of a script by Steve Conrad, a talented screenwriter ("The Promotion," "The Pursuit of Happyness") who should've known better. It's remarkable to think star Vince Vaughn, helmer Ken Scott (who directed Vaughn in 2013's "Delivery Man") or any other decision makers actually read the script and said, "This is great — let's go!"

There's a workable premise here: A trio of St. Louis salesmen — new small-business owner Dan (Vaughn) and hapless colleagues Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and Mike (Dave Franco) — must travel to Berlin by way of Portland, Maine., for a make-or-break meeting, but disaster befalls them at every turn. Think the first "Out-of-Towners" but with three guys instead of a married couple. If only.

The result is a sluggishly paced collection of go-nowhere sight gags, flat-footed set pieces and incoherent business chatter that offers few laughs and little real payoff. Then again, if the idea of work meetings conducted in a unisex sauna, at a gay fetish party or while cops subdue unruly G8-summit protesters sounds like a gas, have at it. Dan's hotel room that's actually a peek-a-boo art installation is one of the film's dumbest conceits.

Vaughn is the one bright spot here. He's warm, equitable and resilient — almost Tom Hanks-like — as a man trying to bring home the bacon for his loving family. However, the film goes to such great lengths to portray him as Dad of the Year, it's overkill.

The great Wilkinson slums it as a randy senior not ready to call it quits. Mostly, though, the role is an excuse for him to drop the F-bomb and pop Ecstasy. As for Franco, who plays a slow-witted virgin, a little goes a long way.

Sienna Miller and James Marsden offer one-note support as the baddies while Nick Frost amuses as a beleaguered flunky.


'Unfinished Business'

MPAA rating: R for some strong sexual content/graphic nudity, and for language and drug use

Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: In general release

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