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The Internship

2013 | 119 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

The Internship


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Theatrical release date

 07 June, 2013
 04 July, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

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The Internship Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 6, 2013

In 2005, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson co-starred in “Wedding Crashers,” a vulgar R-rated comedy that ended up becoming one of the biggest pictures of the year. Bizarrely, a sequel was never attempted. Instead of an official follow-up, there’s “The Internship,” which takes the opposite tonal route of “Wedding Crashers,” containing its outrageousness to a PG-13 uproar, while amplifying its feel-good intentions to win over the big summer crowds. The film feels weirdly gutless, especially from known rapscallions such as Wilson and Vaughn, showing surprisingly little hunger to land monster laughs, instead finding comfort in a tired underdog story gifted a tech-world spin.

Two salesman who’ve found themselves out of work, Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) face an impossible job market without necessary skills to keep them out of poverty. Taking a chance, Billy signs the pair up for an internship at Google in San Francisco, landing the coveted position as outsiders, facing a sea of twentysomethings more in tune with the technological workplace. Stepping into a wonderland of afternoon naps, free food, and fierce competition, Billy and Nick are teamed up with a gang of misfits in search of confidence, staring down punishing supervision from Google bosses, while engaging with fellow “Noogle” and all-around jerk, Graham (Max Minghella). As Billy deals with the difficulty of the coding world, trying to wrap his head around the educational aspects of the internship, Nick takes to the gig easily, spending his free time trying to woo Dana (Rose Byrne), a standoffish executive. As the summer passes, the older men use their experience and way with words to wow the younger set, yet social and vocational demands might be too much for Billy and Nick to handle, especially with such a disorganized team.

It’s been reported that Google didn’t pay a single cent to be featured so prominently in “The Internship,” yet the movie can’t help but come off as an extended commercial for the corporation, highlighting their forward-thinking inventions, cool breeze work environment, and profound care for the well-being of their employees. Director Shawn Levy doesn’t challenge the tech behemoth in the least, treating the Google campus as entry to Oz, wowing Billy and Nick with its lush environment and land of munchkins (at least to the hulking Vaughn). There’s nary a jab at the company, which is depicted in the script by Vaughn and Jared Stern as a glass-encased oasis where customer service is king, innovation is god, and comfort is a right, selling the goodness of Google while name-checking its myriad of products. The reverence is disheartening, especially when “The Internship” could’ve used laughs scored while poking fun at a similar tech Camelot, issuing a good-natured pantsing involving the Shangri-la attitude of the company and its socially awkward staff. Alas, roasting isn’t welcome here, with the entire effort devoted to celebrating the Google way of life. Just don’t ask about the privacy policy.

With Google onboard, Vaughn and Stern attempt to tap into the zeitgeist as Billy and Nick hunt for anything to pay the bills, finding the immaculately coiffed blonde straight man reduced to selling mattresses for his brother-in-law, a scoundrel with a neck tattoo played by Will Ferrell in a should-be-funnier cameo. The internship setting is promising, pitting the mature, indefatigable spirit of the salesmen against skittish college graduates facing a dire future of unemployment. The kids have smarts but no experience, the adults have mileage but no computer literacy, opening the film up to a ripe generational clash played out on a campus of constant surprise (with Vaughn stealing what he learned while making “Old School”). Strangely, outside of an engaging match of Quidditch played by the warring intern units (a game that bewilders the old men until they understand the raw physicality of it) and moments of flaccid taunting, “The Internship” doesn’t take advantage of the divide, instead locking into a screenwriting template that finds Billy warming up to the underdog routine while Nick finds a love interest in Dana. The supporting characters are all assigned banal emotional obstacles to overcome as well, mashed into a nondescript story with a gummy PG-13 bite (with rough editing to preserve the rating). Laughs are minimal, as Vaughn and Stern favor a feel-good route, celebrating “Flashdance” inspiration and clichéd situations of adversity.

“The Internship” supplies a rocky ride, clumsily filing through unfinished subplots, including supervisor Lile’s (Josh Brener) crush on a Google dance instructor (Jessica Szohr) that comes out of nowhere, while intern Neha (Tiya Sircar) introduces herself as a hardcore cosplay enthusiast only to never bring it up again. And I would love to know why Byrne elected to accept such a nothing role, though, like a lot of the film, I suspect most of her part ended up on the cutting room floor to favor formula. Payoffs are minimal, as are creative punchlines, watching the script avoid irritating Google by taking shenanigans off-campus, where Billy and Nick introduce their virginal crew to the wonders of a strip club, with one of the gang repeatedly ejaculating in his pants during lap dances. “The Internship” plays it low and easy to get by while its sentiment is largely mummified, with significant feelings on job security and self-improvement lost to fingerpaint screenwriting and a series of pulled punches.

Starring: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, John Goodman, Rose Byrne, Dylan O'Brien (II), Jessica Szohr
Director: Shawn Levy

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