Directed by: Shawn Levy
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Aasif Mandvi, Rose Byrne, Josh Gad, Will Ferrell, Max Minghella
Running Time: 1 hr 59 mins
Release Date: June 7, 2013
PLOT: Two suddenly unemployed middle-aged salesmen (Vaughn, Wilson) embark on an internship opportunity at Google headquarters.
WHO’S IT FOR? If you lay before the search bar altar of Google, then here’s your Mac and Me, or your Space Jam, or your Kazaam. If you like Wedding Crashers a lot, be advised that this one isn’t as funny. But, for those who don’t like that film, this one is not as obnoxious either.
EXPECTATIONS: Wedding Crashers may not be my favorite comedy, but Vaughn can still be a commendable comedic force. It just feels like a long, long, long time since that happened.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as Billy and Nick: Motor mouth Vaughn is thankfully restricted to a slower speed, not running all over the place in this round with blatant improvisation (as he destructively did so in last year’s The Watch). His Wedding Crashers partner Wilson is also a bit more low key than usual, while still utilized in the movie to expound optimistic wisdom to the people around him. Together, the duo are like two goofy men, working with the straight man that is Google’s standards.
Aasif Mandvi, Rose Byrne, and Josh Gad as various Google employees: The search engine empire covers various personality images with these leading figures of the company in the film. Though used in scenes that aren’t funny (such as the first symposium involving “Yes” and “No” work-related questions), Mandvi is still a sturdy edifice in the face of the duo’s bullsh*tting. Byrne and Gad together specifically represent both sides of hard work in the dot-com business. Some are bustling between meetings with a brief smile to share with employees like the warm Byrne, while others are what The Social Network would call “plugged in,” using headphones to distances themselves from the rest of the world.
Max Minghella as Graham: This former supporting actor from The Social Network is put to inefficient parody in this flat role. His presence as a competing villain against the work of Billy & Nick doesn’t contribute anything to the story but a weak adversary. At best, Minghella’s Graham is an example from Google that they respect personality more than being a jerk.
Will Ferrell as Kevin: Many movies should be judged by how well they can top Will Ferrell’s cameos. This has been the case with The Goods (remember that movie?) and even with Wedding Crashers. Internship is another name to this list, with Ferrell’s brief appearance so solid that his one scene is the film’s funniest moments. Ferrell continuously shows he has the slick delivery of weird terms (like “Nick-rophiliac”) that Vaughn wishes he had.
TALKING: The Internship uses a slew of movie references for the center of numerous jokes. (Films mentioned within this search engine movie, some with entire sequences built around them, include Hunger Games, The Terminator, Flashdance, Back to the Future, X-Men, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and of course, Stalag 17.) Such references more often than not feel like awkward pop culture plugs, in hopes of reaching out to a contemporary audience, or firmly dating this movie in 2013. And of course, with its Google foundation, this comedy does become an advertisement from the PR of Google, in which characters sneak in tidbits about their belief in the power of this website. Employees say things about how Google effectively changes and connects people, but since we don’t really see the website’s effect outside of the interns and workers themselves, we don’t share the same feeling.
SIGHTS: The sunny work environment of Google is constantly soaked up as vibrant background imagery, in all of its free food and colorful workplace glory. Various aspects are even show shown off like in they’re first-and-foremost in a brochure (such as the Energypod station). A sprightly closing credits sequence shows off all of the Google programs I didn’t know existed.
SOUNDS: Although the Internship soundtrack has various sound bytes, the music most distinct to the atmosphere of the film is that of peppy party guitar rock, accompanied by gang vocals. While not every song sounds like “Try It Again” by The Hives, as featured in the closing credits, they might as well be. The movie’s opening scene, in which the duo belt out “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette, feels too directly ripped from the screenplay of Tommy Boy.
BEST SCENE: The film’s best moment doesn’t involve Google, but sweet writing. A date between Wilson and Byrne, in which he intentionally tries to like a jerk, is the movie’s biggest emotional swell, and also its most effective scene.
ENDING: At the very least, the conclusion made me hungry for pizza.
QUESTIONS: Which came first? The story concept, or the Google add-on?
REWATCHABILITY: There have been slower comedies to venture this way, especially from Vaughn and Wilson separately. This movie wouldn’t make for the worst second viewing, but I am not sure it would get funnier. And unless one is directly laughing at the terrible writing, Vaughn’s “Exchangagram” joke will never be funny.
Like an extended episode of “The Big Bang Theory” taken over by Google sponsorship but written by someone who hasn’t upgraded from a flip phone, The Internship is co-writer Vaughn’s shot at staying relevant to a younger demographic. Many of the jokes here are about Vaughn and Wilson’s disconnection to a continually technologically connected society, with a fair amount of them falling flat. For how long can two characters bungle in front of a video camera, or try to their B.S. their way through a tech company job without even knowing there is a difference between a “C+” and C++?
Worst of all, Internship features what can make for uglier moments in suck chic geek shows like “Big Bang Theory,” nerd pandering. A joke involving a Harry Potter game of Quidditch isn’t clever so much as an awkward attempt to speak geek, without any sense of subtlety. The same goes for a reference to JibJab, or bits of dialogue that toss in random movie titles. In this regard, Vaughn’s reference to Stalag 17 might be absurdly random, but at least it feels more out of place than playing Mad Libs with geek culture.
While the film The Internship begins as a parable about two old school workers amazed by how Google gets them with the tech times, this buddy comedy takes a turn for the dull albeit safe when it incorporates a group of bad news interns to the mix, all projected as barely-legal twenty somethings who have introverted into their technology. These characters may actually have the skills to work at a company like Google, but they don’t have the life skills. Often sorely missing the laugh track they’re better fit for, they are at least played bearably by their specific actors. And in some manner, maybe these sidekicks are the reason that Vaughn and Wilson are better behaved in this one. Instead of dousing this movie with their strong personalities, the comedy from the two is a bit more succinct.
One of the goofier aspects about The Internship is indeed the whole Google thing. Does the company really need such a glowing advertisement for their employment? Unless Google is intending to use this film as a recruitment video a la the bookends of Starship Troopers, allowing the company to opine about its greatness seems heavily redundant. It’s already a verb, it’s a concept (the term “Googliness” is used more than once) and now it’s a whole movie. At the most, this is a PR statement from the company that behind their unique home page graphics and the ever-arching expanse of technology, they promise they’re not Skynet. Nope, Google is a business primarily about people connecting with other people. That being said, I anticipate the 2015 sequel Internship 2: Judgment Day, when Vaughn and Wilson have to compete for their jobs against killer robots.
With a spare laugh to be found every now and then, the film is about as creative as a man turning to a search engine to look for a job, and deciding to get said job at the search engine. Get it? He looks for a job using Google, and decides to work for Google! Ha!
That’s exactly what happens in a scene from The Internship.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10