Much like ‘Wedding Crashers’, the pairing of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in ‘The Internship’ seems to have potential for a lot of gut-busting laughs. Unfortunately, just like last time these two got together, we end up with a bland paint-by-numbers comedy that provides only a couple of laughs. Not making the situation any better, this one has a PG-13 rating in order to bring a broader and family-friendlier audience, and the entire movie feels like an ad for Google more than a comedy. That being said, the stars should still draw a decent opening weekend.
Wilson and Vaughn play virtually the same characters they do in every movie they make. Here, they even seem to be the exact same character with no differentiating characteristics. Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) have been salesmen all of their lives, selling watches, scooters and mattresses among other things. When their boss (John Goodman) informs them that the high-end watches they’ve been selling will be phased out due to people using smartphones to check the time, the two are labeled dinosaurs in a quick changing technological universe, and get fired.
For no reason whatsoever, they apply to be interns at Google, which might hopefully lead to permanent jobs at the mega corporation. In an awkward but sincere interview, they land summer internships at Google’s campus, despite lacking any knowledge of anything to do with a computer. They’re clearly the oldest people in the room by over two decades, but hope that their old-school abilities to sell and lead will help them to start over late in life. Even though the odds are against them from the start, the movie’s unbelievable predictability will instantly tell you how this will end.
All of the interns get divided into groups to learn and compete in challenges including tech support, creating an app, and even a Quidditch match. Nick and Billy are paired up with a few young adults, all of whom are very smart and at the top of their classes in school, but all lack social skills. Much like every character in the movie, these new partners are entirely one-note as well. I had hoped for deeper characters and roles that didn’t seem to be redundant.
The band of misfits that form the team are: Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), the above-it-all hipster; Yo-Yo Santos (Tobit Raphael), the smart Asian kid with stern parents; Neha (Tiya Sircar), the only female in the group and a fan-girl of all things sci-fi and anime; and Lyle (Josh Brener), the team leader who has worked for Google for four years and guides the team in the right direction, but lacks confidence. These actors play their parts perfectly well and are fun to watch on screen, but can only go so far with the material they’re given.
Meanwhile, the villain is Graham (Max Minghella), a British student incapable of any type of friendship who steps on and belittles everyone he can. His over-the-top performance is annoying, but he’s effective and will stop at nothing to defeat our rag-tag team. Rose Byrne plays the love interest for Wilson. Will Ferrell, Josh Gad, Rob Riggle, Aasif Mandvi and Gary Anthony Williams all turn up in small and forgettable cameos.
Vaughn and Wilson do a good job of improving with each another and providing their same brand of humor from film to film. However, the script limits their ability to really go the extra mile or break off into something different and original. Director Shawn Levy, whose biggest projects were the ‘Night at the Museum’ films, goes out of the way to showcase Google. Rich primary colors constantly surround the building, which has multi-story slides, nap pods and comfy couches that are all very appeasing to the eye and almost feel like a fairy tale.
The story and message of ‘The Internship’ are solid enough, but the movie has no twists or turns you can’t see coming from ten miles away, and its formulaic comedy that we’ve all seen time and again runs dry quickly. Despite a great cast that should be capable of amazing comedy, the final result is unfulfilling. Save this flick for a video rental, as the only truly remarkable part is the creative end credit sequence.