Ham-fisted road movie is a complete comedy catastrophe

Vince Vaughn as Daniel Trunkman PA/Twentieth Century Fox/Jessica Miglio
Vince Vaughn as Daniel Trunkman PA/Twentieth Century Fox/Jessica Miglio

UNFINISHED BUSINESS (15, 91 mins) Comedy/Romance. Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, James Marsden, Nick Frost, June Diane Raphael, Britton Sear, Ella Anderson. Director: Ken Scott.

Released: March 6 (UK & Ireland)

Vince Vaughn’s career has been in a nosedive since the glory days of Wedding Crashers and Mr & Mrs Smith in 2005.

A leading role in the second series of the gritty TV crime drama True Detective later this year should help him regain altitude, but in the meantime, we have to suffer another bumpy comedy ride as passengers on this ham-fisted road movie. Directed by Ken Scott, who helmed Vaughn in Delivery Man, Unfinished Business is a preposterous story of a family man, who risks everything - including his dignity - to close a business deal.

Scriptwriter Steve Conrad addresses issues of learning disability, teenage cyber-bullying and homosexuality with all of the finesse of a carpenter shaping wood with a pneumatic drill.

One crass and offensive set-piece at a gay fetish night lazily peddles stereotypes, while another pivotal scene in a sauna tackles nudity and prudishness with the sniggering and leering of a hormone-crazed schoolboy. Amid the bad taste interludes, Conrad attempts to deliver poignant sermons on the power of friendship and family unity to overcome adversity.

His clumsy words fall on deaf ears. Dan Trunkman (Vaughn) is a salesman at Dynamic Progressive Systems, who sacrifices precious time with his wife (June Diane Raphael) and two children (Britton Sear, Ella Anderson), to earn meagre commissions on the road.

Following an argument with spiteful sales manager Chuck Portnoy (Sienna Miller), Dan quits and establishes himself as a hardworking small-business owner.

His fledgling company, Apex Select, has two employees: Mike Pancake (Dave Franco), the butt of many of the film’s mean-spirited jibes, and Timothy McWinters (Tom Wilkinson), who is trapped in a loveless marriage and craves sexual thrills from other women: “I would settle for one shade of grey,” he laments.

Dan breathes a huge sigh of relief when he closes a major deal with Jim Spinch (James Marsden) that simply requires a handshake in person.

Dan flies off to close the deal, flanked by Timothy and Mike. Upon arrival, the trio learns that Chuck is in town to steal the business for Dynamic so Dan resorts to extreme measures to win the contract, embarking on a madcap series of misadventures that includes an embarrassing detour to a gay fetish event with Spinch’s assistant (Nick Frost).

Meanwhile, back at home, Dan’s son is bullied mercilessly about his weight. “I can’t even fit in with the kids who don’t fit in!” whimpers the lad during a video chat.

Unfinished Business is a catastrophe. Jokes fall uncomfortably flat and half-hearted attempts to empower Franco’s sweet, trusting character are constantly undermined by mean-spirited jibes at his expense that leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

Vaughn, Wilkinson and Franco catalyse lukewarm screen chemistry while British star Frost may never recover from the indignities afforded him.

RATING: 3/10