Vince Vuaghn & Owen Wilson star in a movie together for the first time since Wedding Crashers. Is it a funny follow-up, or have they lost their edge? 411's Jeremy Wilson checks in with his full review.
Directed by:Shawn Levy Written by: Vince Vaughn & Jared Stern Based on a story by: Vince Vaughn
Billy McMahon: Vince Vaughn Nick Campbell: Owen Wilson Dana: Rose Byrne Mr. Chetty: Aasif Mandvi Graham Hawtrey: Max Mingehella Lyle: Josh Brener Stuart: Dylan O'Brien Neha: Tiya Sircar Yo-Yo Santos: Tobit Raphael Headphones: Josh Gad Marielena: Jessica Szohr Randy: Rob Riggle Boss: John Goodman Brother-in-law: Will Ferrell
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language. Running Time: 119 minutes
The Internship starts out on an ominous note. It's the kind of note that sets the tone for what is to come and will either be your cup of tea or have you reconsidering your decision minutes ago to buy a ticket for this movie. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, re-teaming in a movie for the first time since their 2005 hit Wedding Crashers, are driving to a sales pitch dinner. To get themselves suitably amped up for a sale they desperately need, they listen to their “Get Amped” mix to get them in the proper mindset. So what song does the pair rock out to? Alanis Morissette's “Ironic.” Get it? It's a song that is 18 years old and is so not the kind of song one would normally use to get pumped up. These guys are so old! It's a perfect choice for this movie! It's ironic! Isn't it funny?
If only it were. The sad thing is that this scene, that goes on and on, might be one of the funnier moments in the film (for some). In a year that has seen some truly dreadful big screen comedies, The Internship turns in the bare minimum to avoid joining them. It's not an especially offensive or insulting film and it's not the kind of soul-crushing failure that too many comedies have been of late. However, there's also nothing of interest here, unless you've always wanted a peak into what life might be like at Google HQ. The answer, apparently, is that it's sort of what working with toddlers in a McDonald's PlayPlace might be like, if everyone were all socially stunted, insanely driven genius toddlers. Which, I suppose, makes Vaughn and Wilson the creepy old guys hanging out in the corner.
The film centers on Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson), two watch salesmen who have seen their profession fall by the wayside in the digital age. Middle-aged and newly unemployed, the pair struggle to adapt to their new reality, until Billy convinces Nick to join him in applying for an internship at Google. The pair bullshit their way through an interview (via Google Hangout) and somehow get an unpaid internship at the technology giant. Once there, the pair are teamed up with much younger interns as they now must compete in a series of challenges that will lead to one team winning and guaranteeing jobs with the company. Needless to say, reality is not exactly paramount in The Internship.
In fact, there's nary a genuine moment in this movie. Never mind the idea that these two could get in the door at Google; there is just one conversation after another that rings so hollow and so off (especially between the two of them and the “kids”) that, after awhile, it starts getting slightly more amusing because of its unintended ridiculousness. Additionally, if its premise sounds familiar, it's because it is. You've seen The Internship about 20-30 times before : Revenge of the Nerds, Old School, Dodgeball, among others, with the latter two featuring Vaughn himself. Unfortunately, this isn't even as good as those films. The fact that The Internship is massively derivative wouldn't be as bad if it was genuinely funny or had some edge to it. Unfortunately, it is also reminiscent of 2011's Larry Crowne, a film featuring similar themes and characters that took cinematic blandness to new heights. That film was a massive disappointment particularly in how it utilized and underwrote its cast (one that featured Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson and Bryan Cranston).
Fans of Vaughn and Wilson may feel similar after they get to the end of this tepid, PG-13 affair. While I wasn't the biggest fan of the pair's previous effort Wedding Crashers, at least that film had a little bite and edge to it. This film has nothing approaching bite or edge, as it's too busy putting its ridiculously candy-coated Google color scheme to the service of showing how glorious Google (the company, the workplace, the services, the mission) is and how wacky the differneces are between the old and the young. Jokes get repeated ad nauseam and scenes are stretched to near-interminable lengths (prepare to time the “on the line” gag which feels like it runs for 5 whole minutes and sucks the life out of the movie and audience). To sum up, this is the kind of movie where the strippers where clothes and where “Googliness” is used as a noun, adjective and the film's central tenet.
It's strange to accuse a movie of excessive product placement for a company whose services are predominantly free. Yet, no real viewing of The Internship can exclude the fact that, while Google may not have paid for the privilege of having its company be the focus of the movie, it all still amounts to a 2 hour infomercial and puff piece. It gets to a point where it's more fun to point out the scenes that don't have some sort of product placement or marketing. Even the non-Google stuff is obvious. In a scene you've probably already seen in trailers or TV ads, Vaughn and Wilson are sent on a wild goose chase to Stanford by their younger teammates in search of Professor Charles Xavier. The X-Men films and The Internship are both distributed by 20th Century Fox.
The rosy spin on Google isn't totally unexpected, but a better comedy with more intelligence and ambition would have been able to gently poke the bear without raising its ire. In a week that has once again had Government and Big Data at the forefront of the news cycle, as well as mounting pressure on Google for working with governments that censor their own citizens, you can only take so many self-aggrandizing “we're changing the world” pitches and descriptions of “Googliness” before it takes a toll. For those who know better, it's frustrating and all a bit vacuous; for those who know nothing, I'm sure dreams of working at Google – a.k.a. that awesome magical inflatable bouncy house that gives you free food, provides futuristic nap pods and makes you play volleyball and quidditch all the time – will rise (and quickly fall) for those who actually think that regular, everyman spunk, gumption and can-do attitude is enough. I'm also guessing this is now the second-longest quidditch portrayal on film, exceeding every single Harry Potter film except one. Even this movie's montages go on and on.
There's also a discordant element to The Internship involving the overwhelming smugness of Vuaghn & Wilson mixing with the overall sweeter, more heartfelt tone of the film. I've never been a huge fan of Vaughn or Wilson; the former, in particular, is an actor who always seems to be putting in the bare minimum effort and playing the same version of himself in movie after movie. The fact that either of these characters could come close to doing what they actually accomplish in this movie is bad enough (Wilson magically learns programming over the course of a few weeks, while technophobe Vaughn crams overnight to learn everything he needs to know about Google). However, the question of whether these two actually deserve to win out and achieve what they do by the end of the film is never really asked or explored. They're old and “have the courage to dream,” which is apparently enough for Vince Vaughn and professional hack director Shawn Levy. Meanwhile, the pair – in their infintie and oh-so-hilarious wisdom – dispense really important life lessons to their younger teammates, magically curing them of their insecurities with never-before-heard platitudes such as “Sometimes the most radical move is just to be yourself.” Oy vey.
If that weren't bad enough, there's even a laughably shoehorned romance involving Wilson's character and one played by the criminally underused Rose Byrne. The extent of Byrne's involvement seems to be what she does with her glasses, to serve as another “old” person who serves as an example of what these “Nooglers” will turn into and slowly breaking down to the insistent advances of that adorable 40-something unpaid intern, Owen Wilson. You could excise every scene and line of dialogue they share together from The Internship and you'd honestly never know it was missing, it is that irrelevant. Most of the rest of the supporting cast go similarly wasted, although both Aasif Mandvi and Tiya Sircar have some moments. If they weren't obsessed with the Google playground and toys, Vaughn and Levy might have focused more on the decent cast they have and on crafting more intelligent and genuine situations for them.
Like Larry Crowne, there is a movie to be made about the rapidly-changing 21st century workforce, the rise of technology in even the most mundane aspects of our lives and of middle-aged workers forcefully thrust into an environment they know little about and which has little regard for them or their “experience.” The Internship isn't that movie, but the fact that it even couches these themes in its (bordering-on-interminable) two hour running time does put it a step above dreary, soulless endeavors such as The Hangover Part III or Scary Movie V. That and the tepid “ahas” it is able to occasionally muster isn't enough to recommend it, but does keep it from the bottom of the barrel. Like “Googliness” itself, it isn't really funny, but it's likable enough.
The 411: The Internship is a tepid, middling comedy that basically serves as a two-hour endorsement of Google. At two near-interminable hours, it is way to long, as jokes get repeated, scenes drag and montages abound. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson act pretty much how you'd imagine them to in a buddy comedy like this, but the R-rated edge of Wedding Crashers is nowhere to be found in this pre-teen-aimed affair. Aasif Mandvi gets some laughs but the rest of the supporting cast – Rose Byrne in particular – goes almost completely wasted. There is a movie to be made about the rapidly-changing 21st century workforce, the rise of technology in even the most mundane aspects of our lives and of middle-aged workers forcefully thrust into an environment they know little about and which has little regard for them or their “experience.” The Internship isn't that movie, but the fact that it even goes there does put it a step above some of its drearier, more soulless big screen comedic competition. It's not terrible, but it's not worth your money either. Not Recommended.