The Internship

© 2013 Ray Wong

Part buddy comedy, part giant ad for Google, The Internship is a tepid story that tries so hard to re-team wedding crashers Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson while being earnest and wholesome.

Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are two brilliant salesmen and best buddies whose careers are outdated because of the digital age. After they've lost their jobs and ways of life, Billy has a great idea? Why not change their careers to embrace the new world by becoming interns at one of the best technology companies in the world, Google?

By a stroke of luck and the sympathetic vote of Lyle (Josh Brener), a junior manager at Google, Billy and Nick successfully get into the summer internship program. But the competition is fierce; Billy and Nick feel immediately out of place among all the super-smart college students. Soon they team up with a group of "outliners" mentored by the kind and enthusiastic Lyle.

As their competitors and detractors such as the cocky Ivy-Leaguer Graham (Max Mingella), rigid Internship manager Mr. Chetty (Aasif Mandvi) or indifferent manager Dana (Rose Bryne) continue to dismiss them as losers, Billy and Nick must find their way to not only get assimilated the new technology world, but also teach these kids a few things about teamwork, self-esteem and being human.

Vince Vaughn (The Watch) and Owen Wilson (The Big Year) are a good team together. Not all of their movies worked -- the Wedding Crashers was a smash but Hall Pass was a mess. Here, they are somehow in the middle of the pack, thus in a way mediocre. They are engaging enough, but never really rise about their usual schticks.

Rose Bryne (The Place Beyond the Pines) looks smart enough to work for Google but sexy enough to be Wilson's love interest, but ultimately Bryne has nothing to do except being the latter. Aasif Mandvi (Premium Rush) has some fun playing a stiff corporate manager, but somehow I wonder how he ended up at Google? Max Mingella (The Social Network) twirls his proverbial mustache as the main villain but his portrayal of the bully is too over the top without any kind of humanity.

The teamsters fare much better. Josh Brener (The Big Bang Theory) is sweet and adorable as geek-master Lyle. Dylan O'Brien (The First Time) is affectingly aloof and guarded as Stuart. Tiya Sicar (The Domino Effect) is sexy and sweet as Neha. Tobit Raphael has one of the best roles in the movie as Yo-Yo Santos; we just want to give him a hug while laughing at him.

Vaughn and Jared Stern (Wreck-It Ralph) head the writing team. The script is a lukewarm hodgepodge of comical ideas that borrow heavily from other movies, including Vaughn's own. The buddy formula is familiar but a bit stale. The jokes also rely heavily on stereotypes and the inherit humor in the cultural difference between the tech-savvy young and the tech-phobic old. It is hard to believe that a bunch of 40-something men would be so out of touch -- what kind of men in their 40s don't have a smartphone or iPod, who still listen to mix tapes or make 80s pop references? Granted, Vaughn is trying to exaggerate the gap between his character and the "kids" but I think the parody is too extreme to be plausible.

There are too many plot holes to mention as well. While I can take a leap of faith to believe that Google would actually accept them as interns, I just don't buy it that two seasoned salesmen can't find any job other than selling watches. Everywhere you turn there are sales forces, and clearly if they're as good as we're led to believe, they can find a sales job anywhere instead of taking an internship. Besides, since being an intern is unpaid, how are they making a living for the summer as we're led to believe both men lost everything. By pushing for the extremes for laughs, the writers are also pushing for unbelievability.

Also, the construct of the story is as old-school as you can get, and the insistence of having a villain such as Graham cheapens the journey these men are taking to embrace the brave new world of technology. They really don't need this good vs. evil plot. Just to see them struggling through this brave new world would be amusing enough. And I kind of resist the notion that being a geek is boring and "missing out on life" and the only way one can learn to "live" is by partying and going to a strip club and getting drunk. What kind of message is that?

Granted, director Shawn Levy (Real Steel) has a breezy, friendly style that makes the movie enjoyable and engaging. The plot clips along just fine and the movie has enough chuckles to entertain. As a comedy, though, The Internship is as mediocre as the lead characters are in life.

Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Bryne, Aasif Mandvi, Max Minghella, Josh Brener, Dylan O'Brien, Tiya Sicar, Tobit Raphael
Director: Shawn Levy
Writers: Vince Vaughn, Jared Stern
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language
Running Time: 119 minutes


Script - 6
Performance - 7
Direction - 7
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 8
Editing - 7
Production - 7

Total - 7.0 out of 10.0 

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