Vaughn, Wilson Reunite for a Relatively Funny Internship
I’m having problems where it comes to writing a review for the Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy The Internship. Not because I didn’t enjoy this reunion of the Wedding Crashers stars, shockingly I kind of did, but more because when I look at the film as a whole I just don’t have anything to say about it that feels necessary. For all its strengths, for as honest as it can be (at times, not as a whole), as nice as it is to see the two stars reteaming for a second time, the film dissipates from the brain rather rapidly, a truth that is as unavoidable as it is disheartening.
That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit enjoying this movie. Overlong, yes, and not always on target (much like their last pairing, certain segments are undone by an undying devotion to Will Ferrell) with some of the humor too blasé obvious for its own good, the fact is that the scenario Vaughn and fellow screenwriter Jared Stern (The Watch) come up with is a solid one, while the characters he and Wilson portray are easy to relate to and understand.
The basic premise is an old dogs-new tricks stalwart concerning a pair of fast-talking salesmen, Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson), who find themselves on the unemployment line when their longtime boss (John Goodman) calls it quits. With no real skills to speak of, the analog 40-something best friends decide to reach for the digital brass ring and apply for an internship Google, suddenly competing with a gaggle of 20-somethings for a smattering of positions, all of them eager to put these two dinosaurs back into the museum where they think they belong.
From there you have an underdog tale with Billy and Nick joining forces with their Google team leader Lyle (Josh Brener) and a trio of perceived misfits, Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), Neha (Tiya Sircar) and Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael), to show how old school and new school can combine to form something fresh and exciting. There are challenges along the way, the main obstacle being brownnosing bully and fellow intern Graham (Max Minghella). But through it all the group will find a way to come together as a team, prove the naysayers wrong and show Google what innovation is all about.
When the movie works, it does so because it is honest. Billy and Nick are of the now. We know these guys. At the same time, we also know Stuart, Neha and Yo-Yo, young kids so enmeshed in the digital community they don’t know how to live in the organic everyday world. Their people skills are almost nonexistent; their ability to hold verbal conversations bordering on the mediocre.
It is in these depressing truths Vaughn and Stern find much of their comedy, allowing current realities to speak for themselves in a way that’s strikingly authentic. It’s painful, especially for those of us closer to the Billy/Nick side of things than we’d like to think. But it is also engagingly honest, and as such these situations are easy to find the humor in, and even if some of the jabs hit a little close to home, in the long run that just makes them even more effective.
So what’s the problem? The problem, other than the length, which is inexcusable, director Shawn Levy (Date Night, Real Steel) a filmmaker who should know better, is how facile and forgettable much of the rest of the film can be. From a tacked on romance between Nick and a Google vice president (portrayed by an admittedly beguiling Rose Byrne), to the Revenge of the Nerds level antics of chief villain Graham, to a litany of Vaughn monologues that start of great but slowly (and surely) wear out their welcome, there’s plenty here to be annoyed by.
But for the most part I enjoyed The Internship, and even the stuff that made my dander rise didn’t do so enough to make sitting through any single part of this comedy anything close to a chore. As forgettable as the movie might be, and safe and familiar as the central scenario is, the underlying societal truths percolating beneath the surface are strong. While they don’t erase all of this feature’s shortcomings, they at least cover them up just enough so they didn’t bother me near as much as they otherwise would have.
Film Rating: 2½ (out of 4)