With Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, Edwin Hodge. Written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern. Directed by Shawn Levy. Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language. 119 minutes.
There are a lot of reasons to dislike THE INTERNSHIP, starting with the fact that it stars Vince Vaughn and the one-trick-pony Owen Wilson, and ending with the fact that it is a two-hour love letter to Google. Will positive reviews turn up on searches on Yahoo or Ask.com?
However, as the film progresses, it becomes harder and harder to resist because there is a nub of truth at its core. Yes, the job market today is brutal and not what earlier generations were promised. And, yes, if people of different ages and backgrounds worked together there’s no telling what they might accomplish. That’s what is at the core of “The Internship,” and why you may find yourself liking it in spite of yourself.
Vaughn (who co-wrote the script) and Wilson are two forty-something salesmen whose company has just gone bust. Desperate to find a place in a marketplace that has drastically changed, they decide to take a summer internship at Google, where everyone else in the program is still in college. What are they living on in the meantime? Stop asking questions and just go with the flow.
The two are misfits, of course, and end up on a team of other misfits. Their chief rival (Max Minghella) is a Millennial who has nothing but contempt for those around him, which tells us we’re in the “snobs vs. slobs” world of “Caddyshack” and its progeny. When Wilson hits on a thirty-something Google employee (Rose Byrne) we’re supposed to imagine he’s charming. Oddly, by the time they go on a date where he’s promised to be all the bad dates she’s missed out on over the years, it’s actually amusing.
As for the competition, we need to be reminded–constantly–how out-of-touch Vaughn and Wilson’s characters are, as when they are required to invent a new app and come up with Instagram. Yet we also see the old dogs have something to teach their younger counterparts and that they also capable of learning themselves. The message is that it’s not age that’s important, but the desire to work hard and play well with others. Or, as the film insists on calling it, “Googliness.”
The supporting cast includes John Goodman (killing time between “The Hangover Part III” and the upcoming “Monsters University”), and “Daily Show” veterans Aasif Mandvi (as a Google executive) and Rob Riggle (as a sleazy purveyor of motorized carts for the elderly). Mandvi has the most to prove, having been in the awful “The Last Airbender,” and it’s nice to report he eradicates that horrid experience from memory.
“The Internship” is neither original nor cutting edge, nor is it in any way a “must see” comedy. Yet it is a pleasant (if overlong) and gets better as it goes along rather than worse. There have been some horrible excuses for comedies this year, and it may be a backhanded compliment, but “The Internship” is not one of them.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s A Secret: A Novel About Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide has just been released. He teaches at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.