Review: The Internship
PLOT: Two fast talking salesmen (Vince Vaughn & Owen Wilson) find themselves out of work. With no prospects and nowhere to turn, they talk their way into a summer internship with Google in the hopes of landing a permanent position.
REVIEW: Product placement is a movie-going fact these days. There's seemingly no way around it, and virtually every big studio movie that's out there has got some kind of promotional partner working with them. However, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite as blatant as THE INTERNSHIP which is less a movie, and more of a two-hour infomercial for Google, which is presented here as nothing short of a utopia. Heck, a character even has a monologue early in the film about how Google is all about diversity, and that everyone, regardless of their education or background, should have a shot with the company.
THE INTERNSHIP is the kind of movie where people prattle on about their love of Google because “it makes the world a better place.” There's even a sequence where characters have to man the Google helpline and answer all kinds of questions about common bugs and fixes for the various apps, all of which are explained over and over again throughout the film. It's almost sickening. The last time I remember product placement this blatant was back in the eighties, in films like MAC & ME (with a five minute dance number set at McDonalds with a break-dancing Ronald McDonald), or the now-infamous THE WIZARD (the movie where autism is cured through the power of Nintendo).
But let's forget all about the fact that THE INTERNSHIP is essentially Google: The Movie. As blatant and distasteful as the product placement is, that all could have been forgiven if only THE INTERNSHIP was funny. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson really are a great big-screen team. Their buddy-buddy camaraderie is infectious, and it's funny watching them play off each other. If that's the case, why is THE INTERNSHIP so bad?
I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the movie feels so watered down next to THE WEDDING CRASHERS. Not only is THE INTERNSHIP PG-13, but it's a light PG-13 (the kind of movie where people say “what the shit?”). Vaughn and Wilson are at their best when they're raunchy. Take the raunch away from THE WEDDING CRASHERS and I'm not convinced it still would have been a good movie. There are a few moments where this comes close to working, such as a fun strip club outing where the guys take their 21-year-old friends out for a night of boozing, which-naturally- removes the stick from their asses and makes them work together as a team (such is the power of tequila shots and strippers). But, that's pretty much the only time where THE INTERNSHIP starts to feel like the fun summer comedy all involved obviously hoped to make.
The lack of raunch isn't the movie's only problem though. Despite a hefty two-hour running time, the characters never even come close to being two-dimensional. It adheres so strictly to the underdogs beat the odds formula (although with Google being such a wonderful, tolerant place, they’re never really underdogs) that the plot is beyond predictable. Gee-think Vaughn's going to learn responsibility? Will Wilson score with the icy, but cute Google supervisor (played by Rose Byrne- who doesn't get the chance to be nearly as funny as she was in GET HIM TO THE GREEK or BRIDESMAIDS)? Is they young, smarmy English jerk (Max Minghella- channeling Bradley Cooper in WEDDING CRASHERS) going to get his comeuppance? Are the nerdy kids going to learn self-confidence? It's all formulaic in the extreme, and nothing you haven't seen done time and time again. Again though, all of this could have been forgiven if only the movie was funny, but it's so damn stale. Vaughn does exactly the same thing here he did in THE WATCH, COUPLES RETREAT, FOUR CHRISTMASES, etc. I like the guy, but he's slipping badly and needs to mix things up a bit. With him also being the co-writer and producer, I'd wager he's more to blame for this than Wilson, who's marginalized here compared to WEDDING CRASHERS.
It's depressing giving THE INTERNSHIP such a bad review, as everyone involved is capable of so much more, from director Shawn Levy (who I thought did a great job on REAL STEEL) to the stars, who despite a lack-luster run of films, can probably still knock it out of the park given the right material, but this is a really poor effort. Take away Google, and THE INTERNSHIP isn't only thin, but it's non-existent. This is a real waste of what used to be a really talented buddy-comedy duo. Maybe they'll re-team on something better, but after watching THE INTERNSHIP, I wonder if anyone will still care?