6/13/2013 - Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn take out their Wedding Crashers characters, make a few Great Recession-related nips and tucks, add a few accessories from other roles they’ve played in the last 10 years and present a remix called The Internship, a movie that is also about what a swell place to work Google is.
Nap pods! Free food! Wacky contests! Perhaps this is the definitive sign that I am officially Old, but the forced joviality of the movie’s version of the Google workplace made me feel that the alcoholism, racism and misogyny of the Mad Men workplace wasn’t really that bad. I don’t think I’d like being called “sweetheart” all day but I think I could handle it better than being asked about the “googliness” of my ideas.
Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson) are salesmen. They are good salesmen — remembering names and ages of kids, a customer’s interests and the like — but they are wholesalers for watches and these days everybody tells time with a cell phone so, ruh-roh, their company is out of business. What will they do? While Googling around for a job, Billy gets an idea and talks Nick into applying for a Google internship with him. It’s unpaid, yes, but it will help them get the skills they need to compete in a new economy or whatever excuse allows the 40-something actors to hang with 20-something tech geeks.
Though they are wildly under-qualified when compared with the Ivy-League straight-A geeks who are also part of the Google internship program, Billy and Nick hook up with a gang of misfits including the confidence-needing Lyle (Josh Brener), the too-cool-for-school Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), the tightly wound Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael) and Neha (Tiya Sircar), whose character thing seems to be that she’s a girl. Together, they use a blend of the kids’ tech know-how and Billy and Nick’s old-dude experience to master projects like building an app and playing Quidditch. Because every movie like this (which is essentially a variation on the battle-of-the-college-fraternities movies of the 1980s) needs a jerk character, there’s Graham Hawtrey (Max Minghella), who is kind of the jock of geekiness. And since the synthetic binders keeping together this chicken nugget of a movie require some kind of romance, Nick has flirtations with grown-up Google employee Dana (Rose Byrne).
And like some kind of processed food-cube, The Internship feels like a compressed protein chunk of extra parts from Wedding Crashers, Old School and You, Me and Dupree with a few scraps of Current Economic Climate thrown in for meaty flavor and breaded and fried in a blend of genre-crumbs featuring college comedy and fish-out-of-water yuks. Sure, they can make this zaniness patty look potentially enjoyable in commercials, but once you truly bite into it, it starts to fall apart, leaving you with flavorless hunks of bits you recognize as being familiar from more satisfying offerings. And constantly, constantly, like some kind of psychological torture, the steady hum of Vaughn’s and Wilson’s similar brands of shticky patter fill your ears, leaking into your head, until you cannot shut your mind off to that wet deli meat smack-smack that is Vaughn’s speaking style and the vaguely dude-y gurgling that is Wilson’s. The Internship is oppressively below average, as though somehow it is aggressive in its not trying. D+
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language. Directed by Shawn Levy and written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern, The Internship is an hour and 59 minutes long and distributed by 20th Century Fox.