by NEVIL GIBSON
A top 10 list of the best films about business is unlikely to have any from the past year or so.
In fact, such a list of 50 on the Internet Movie Database contains only one from 2011 (Margin Call) and nothing since then, despite the Global Financial Crisis.
The interpretation of business is wide, as well. There are far more gangsters than dodgy entrepreneurs, and it even includes films about royalty such as The King’s Speech and The Queen.
Older readers may recall the acerbic corporate comedies of Billy Wilder (The Apartment; One, Two, Three; Kiss Me, Stupid and The Fortune Cookie).
Some Jim Carrey vehicles should also be mentioned (Ace Ventura, The Cable Guy, Fun with Dick and Jane) along with Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire, Risky Business, The Firm).
That tradition is now being pushed along, with less success, by Vince Vaughn, who is best
known for his marital comedies (he wrote Couples Retreat and came up with the story for The
He switched to business with The Internship (2013), about two unemployed 40-somethings trying to get a job at Google.
Their previous jobs had disappeared in the digital age and the plot exploits the generation gap as well as providing some intriguing insights into one of today’s business behemoths.
Vaughn’s latest starring role is Unfinished Business (20th Century Fox), which is not as polished or funny. But it contains much to like as it stretches the travelling salesman
stereotype well past a family audience.
The comparisons with earlier films are hard to miss. Insubordination leads to dismissal, sparking Vaughn into seeking revenge by starting his own venture (tick Jerry Maguire).
He is joined by one old hand (Tom Wilkinson, who has been “let go”) and a neophyte (Dave Franco, who can’t get a job).
They set up in the unglamorous business of selling iron filings (tick Tin Men) against their highly competitive (and also glamorous) former boss (Sienna Miller).
She has the unlikely name of Chuck Portnoy and, ironically, resembles Vaughn’s devoted wife
(June Diane Raphael), a role Miller usually plays, as in American Sniper and Foxcatcher, for example.
As usual in such films, family life and money worries intrude from time to time as a reminder that the business stuff has a serious purpose.
The tough get going when contracts are at stake, leading the rival groups on trips to Portland in Maine before heading over the Atlantic to Hamburg and Berlin in pursuit of the handshake deal.
Here, events quickly degenerate into adult situations that rival the worst of The Hangover series.
In a more acceptable one, Vaughn features in a live art installation, “American Businessman 42”.
Berlin is hosting a G8 summit, so there are protesters to deal with, as well as a beer festival, a marathon run and sordid after hours celebrating.
This allows some of the subsidiary characters to be fleshed out as they confront their own
Some might say little of this behaviour is creditable, but then that could be said about much comedy today.
Rating: Restricted to audiences over 16 (offensive language, sexual references, drug use).