By Dan Metcalf
Clipper Film Correspondent
The Internship (20th Century Fox)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language.
Starring Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, Joanna Garcia, John Goodman, Jessica Szohr, Dylan O'Brien, Bruno Amato, B.J. Novak, Aasif Mandvi, Tiya Sircar.
Written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern.
Directed by Shawn Levy.
Finding work in a weak economy is tough, but even tougher for middle-aged folks who entered the workforce way back before the Internet took over the world. That's the comedic setting of The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two guys seeking employment at Google.
Vaughn stars as Billy and Wilson stars as Nick, two buddies who find themselves out of work after their sales firm goes belly-up. In desperation, they apply for internships at Google (if you don't know what that is – look it up, heheh...). By some sort of miracle, they are accepted by the search engine company, and head out to California. At Google, Billy and Nick soon discover that they are technologically inferior to their twenty-something genius counterparts, all of whom are divided into internship teams. The teams are supposed to compete against each other for the chance at a guaranteed Google job. As outcasts, the boys find themselves part of team of leftover nerds who are more socially inept than the rest.
As they compete in several contests, Billy and Nick use their sales charm to build camaraderie and social skills among the team. They also get the uptight group of kids to experience life outside their computer screens in the form of a little drinking and debauchery. In turn, the kids try to help Billy and Nick learn the complicated world of HTML, CSS, C++, and other technological skills needed to succeed at Google.
Nick also falls for Dana (Rose Byrne), a beautiful Google manager, while Billy tries to overcome his inability to finish things he starts. The boys' team is often thwarted by a rival team of preppie jerks led by ruthless intern Graham (Max Minghella). They must also avoid the scrutiny of the strict internship coordinator Mr. Chetty (Aashiv Mandavi) before the summer internship is over.
The Internship might have been billed as The Wedding Crashers 2, since Vaughn and Wilson don't offer much more comedic insights than they did in their previous collaboration. I like Vince Vaughn and really don't mind Wilson, but their “stream of consciousness” style of dialogue (Vaughn also gets a writing credit) is getting as old as their Internship characters.
The movie is rated PG-13, and the line between an R and PG-13 rating is often approached with a lot of references to racy content, but that line is conspicuously never crossed. For example, an interns make a visit to a strip club that is more like a Victoria's Secret fashion show (or so I hear). The result is movie somewhere between a raunchy adult comedy and sweet, coming-of-age film. The Internship might confuse Vaughn and Owens fans who expect their usual racy stuff, while alienating younger audiences.
It could also be argued that Vaughn and Wilson deserve second billing to Google, which is portrayed as the most benevolent, idyllic Utopia this side of Shangri-la. Google didn't pay a dime for their blatant product placement in The Internship, but did demand some changes to the script that made them uncomfortable in exchange for their cooperation. Such devices may influence movie-goers to walk away from The Internship seeing Google as more of a religion than a search engine.
The Internship does offer a few laughs and charming moments, including an amusing scene where Nick agrees to be the worst date during a night out with Dana. Even with a few bright spots, most of the good stuff in The Internship is obscured by the worn out “nerdy-underdogs-against-the-world” story and the droning of Vaughn and Wilson's incessant freestyle monologues.