Al Gore once famously opined that, “Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” And that goes double for frequent business travel, where an often punishing regiment of economy class seats, bad food, flight delays and frumpy hotel rooms can age you quicker than the day old pastries at Au Bon Pain. Simply put, running the gauntlet is not for the faint of heart.
While the rigours faced by road warriors have been touched upon in films like Lost in Translation, Up in the Air and the grandaddy of them all: Planes, Trains & Automobiles, few films have tackled the strange and wonderful world of international business travel head on, until now.
Unfinished Business marks the second big-screen collaboration between Vince Vaughn and Canadian writer-director Ken Scott, and like their last effort (2013’s vastly-underrated Delivery Man) Business was uniformly savaged by critics in its initial release this past spring. Chief among the complaints was that Vaughn’s aging, frat boy charms had worn thin over the years. And while there may be some truth to that – especially in lesser Vaughn vehicles like The Internship and The Watch – Business seems tailor-made for Vaughn’s patented brand of scruffy, indie-feel hilarity. Funny, crude, goofy and sometimes surprisingly heartfelt – especially in the scenes with Vaughn’s beleaguered family back home – Business is Vaughn’s Jerry Maguire and he totally owns every scene he’s in.
Playing a mineral salesman who quits to start his own firm after being asked to take a 5% pay cut by his hard-charging boss, Chuck (played to steely-eyed perfection by Sienna Miller), Vaughn is joined in his new venture by a recently aged-out, sex-starved co-worker named Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and a sweet, eager-to-please rookie with virtually no business experience known as Mike Pancake (Dave Franco). Setting up shop in the local Dunkin’ Donuts, Vaughn and company quickly finds themselves in direct competition for investors with Chuck and her fellow corporate overlords. Following a lead that could make or break their fledgling start-up, Vaughn and his crew head to Germany and from the moment they step off the plane, chaos ensues.
Brimming with crass, offbeat humor and more raunchy R-rated site gags than you can shake a bratwurst at – the howlingly-funny glory hole scene in a German gay bar has to be seen to be believed! – Business is definitely not for all tastes.
But Scott and screenwriter Steven Conrad (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) inject the proceedings with so much heart and genuine affection for their ordinary businessmen “raging-against-the-corporate-machine” characters that even viewers who don’t appreciate off-color jokes about pretentious German art-installations, recreational drug use and something called the “wheelbarrow position” will still find themselves rooting for Vaughn and his team to succeed. Because deep down Unfinished Business is really about being true to who you are, doing what you love and kicking against the soulless pricks that try to stop you along the way. And even viewers who’ve never slogged across time zones for business or slept on the floor in the hallway at a youth hostel to save money until that first big check clears can surely relate to that.
So, loosen up your tie and/or kick off your heels, order up a tall one, and, to borrow a line from Vaughn’s indecipherable German rental car GPS: get ready to “flügelschlagen”.
Now playing on select Air New Zealand, Finnair and United flights worldwide, Unfinished Business is also available to stream via Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, VUDU and the PS Store.