Does The Internship inspire you to work for free, or should our actors return their hefty paychecks for a job poorly done?
When we first perused the non-animated comedy releases for 2013, only a few seemed to attract our attention. The Internship was not necessarily one of them, as it was billed as the next Wedding Crashers, starring the same dude actors behaving inappropriately at the hands of unsuspecting people. And while it doesn't forge new ground ala Ted, or amaze us like the original Hangover, it does its job as simple Summer movie entertainment, provided you don't take any of it seriously and keep your day job.
Old-school salesmen Billy (Vince Vaughn, Swingers) and Nick (Owen Wilson, Cars) have recently lost their jobs as the business has folded underneath them. Neither has the skills to survive in the new world of online sales, until Billy gets a wondrous idea: retrain as an intern at the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. This version of the ultimate retool leads to a hilarious interview with two Google employees while the boys sit in front of a webcam in the kiddie section of the local library. Somehow, they land the precious internship, which is really just a slim chance to get a real job at the Web powerhouse. There, they learn that the campus is like Disneyland for adults; free food abounds, as do napping areas and bicycles. However, they are clearly out of their league, as the other candidates come from prestigious schools, are 20 years their juniors, and seem pre-connected to the Web from birth. After being dropped into a derelict team, they are given a series of assignments, which they fail miserably. Their competition, the smooth-talking taskmaster Graham (Max Minghella), chastises them while mistreating his own teammates. Only one team can win Google careers, and Graham will do anything it takes to be victorious. The team must come together before Graham destroys any hope for Nick and Billy's career reboot.
The Internship is nothing we haven't seen before, but the script by Vaughn and and Jared Stern reminds one of a consistent problem in Hollywood, that of trying to mix two incompatible formulas into one story. Why the creative team thinks this needs to be anything more than fun comedic entertainment is beyond me. Also, the strange fetish of sex with seniors rears its ugly head here once again, proving that someone in Hollywood should be sent to a rest home. Wilson's love interest, X-Men: First Class hottie Rose Byrne, is suddenly transformed from workaholic to one-night stand fodder for Wilson; has she not seen Wedding Crashers? All kidding aside, it's not very flattering for an actress who should be in more substantial roles than this. Vaughn and Wilson's team - Josh Brener, Dylan O'Brian, Tiya Sircar, and Yo-Yo Santos - are enjoyable tag-alongs that are actually given their moments to shine. The problem is that when dealing with the serious tones of unemployment, job loss, peer pressure, and harassment, Internship doesn't know if it wants to be dramatic feel-good or simple comedy. If the latter was the case, then Vaughn and Director Shawn Levy (Real Steel) should have known better than to introduce distracting concepts to a film that could have been incredibly funny. Instead, we get something that must resemble a typical Google headquarters meeting: chaotic, disjointed, and confusing.
I might sound overly critical here, but I grow tired of formulaic comedies that try to be too many things, allowing their Jack of All Trades to derail the story. Ted and The Hangover work because they don't try to be anything but intensely funny. Had Internship simply adopted this mentality - that anything that can happen should - we could have had something special. Instead, it's just merely entertaining.
The internship isn't terrible, if you like Vaughn and Wilson looking like uneducated fools all the time, then moving into weird dramatics while their geek teammates suddenly develop social skills and start hanging out with strippers. Google must be a very enjoyable place to work, but a movie about two people who couldn't make the cut on their best day, while socially inept people look on is not as enjoyable as it could have been. The Internship is rated R and has a runtime of 119 minutes.
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