A film review by Craig J. Koban June 25, 2013
2013, PG-13, 119 mins.
2013, PG-13, 119 mins.
Owen Wilson as Nick / Vince Vaughn as Billy / Tiya Sircar as Neha / Max Minghella as Graham / Josh Gad as Headphones / Josh Brener as Lyle / Dylan O'Brian as Stuart / Tophit Raphael as Yo Yo / Jessica Szohr as Marielena
Directed by Shaun Levy / Written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern
To say that THE INTERNSHIP gets by considerably on the totally money comedic pairing of stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson is a massive understatement.
affectionately motormouthed bravado serves as an effective foil to
Wilson’s more boyish and innocent enthusiasm; when the pair is on screen
you just find yourself instantly gravitating towards them in just about
any scene that they inhabit. They
proved their dynamic duo comedic street cred in 2005’s crude and
hysterical WEDDING CRASHERS.
Of course, this begs a simple question:
Why the hell have they not made more films together over the
course of the last eight years?
I have read how
THE INTERNSHIP feels like a badly timed release for the pair, which does
make a hill of beans worth of sense in the respect that it represents Vaughn and Wilson’s only cinematic re-team since 2005.
There is something to be said about how well THE INTERNSHIP would
have played if it came hot on the heels of WEDDING CRASHERS’ release,
but hindsight is indeed 20/20. To
be fair, the distance created between WEDDING CRASHERS and THE INTERNSHIP
is probably a necessity, seeing as the two films could not be any more
different. WEDDING CRASHERS
was an unapologetically hard-R rated nuptials-themed bromance, whereas THE
INTERNSHIP is more of a decidedly soft-pedaled and kind-hearted PG-13
vehicle for its main stars. That,
and the film is one big gigantic hug/commercial ad for Google; more on
the latter in a bit.
Vaughn and Wilson
are also a bit older and rougher around the edges here than their WEDDING
CRASHERS counterparts. As
the film opens we are introduced to a couple of ace watch salesmen, Billy (Vaughn)
and Nick (Wilson), who in tandem are so slick and smooth talking that
could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.
Unfortunately for the pair, their company goes belly-up (everyone
seems to be using their cell phones to check the time, making time pieces
a dinosaur), so Billy and Nick find themselves pushing towards mid-40 with
no employment opportunities in sight.
Billy has an epiphany one night while browsing online (or, as he
would say, “on the line”) for jobs: he convinces the initially
reluctant Nick to join him in applying for an internship at Google.
Once accepted (they fake their University and academic
credentials), they will then have to endure a mentally strenuous
internship and fight off hundreds of others for a
chance to get a prized job at the iconic search engine corporation.
Billy and Nick feel immediately like over-the-hill fossils compared to the
other barely-out-of-their-teens internees.
That, and they constantly feel the wrath of Mr. Chetty (THE DAILY
SHOW’s very funny Aasif Mandvi), a soft-spoken drill sergeant, so to
speak, of the internship program that relishes in relaying to Billy and
Nick how unqualified they are. Things
get worse on their first day when the pair are picked over for work teams
by all of the other tech-intelligent uber nerds, so they find themselves
lumped in with some very smart, but unpopular underachievers in Neha (Tiya
Sircar), Yo-Yo (Tophit Raphael), Stuart (Dylan O’Brian) and team leader,
Lyle (Josh Brener). Their
main opposition is an elitist SOB with a smirk that you want to slap off of his
face, Graham (the well cast Max Minghella) that loves to point out the
inadequacies of everyone around him, including his own team members.
the script was co-written by a smart chap like Vaughn, THE INTERNSHIP is
awash in predictable formulas and clichés through and through.
The group of misfits that Billy and Nick find themselves trying to
pseudo mentor while they, ironically enough, are being mentored by them,
are a collection of character types: Yo-Yo is the emotionally subjugated
geek that is constantly bullied by his tiger mom; Neha is nice and
innocent on the outside, but sex-starved and hungry on the inside; Stuart
is a hipster that is too cool to smile and always has his head buried in
his smart phone; and Lyle is blindsided by his own delusions of coolness.
Furthermore, the underdog conventions that are
presented here – where the aging stars have to convince themselves and
their comrades in arms that they can win big in the end – hits every
proverbial beat in the playbook. There
are no narrative surprises anywhere to be found in THE INTERNSHIP.
there’s Google, which is pretty much one-sidedly portrayed as a near
utopian compound where endless food is free, cars drive by themselves, and
everyone has their own sleep pod for meditation.
It’s just…I dunno…perfect…maybe too perfect.
That, are the fellow staff members are smoking hot (Rose Byrne, who
appears as the obligatory love interest to Wilson).
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with a film praising the
greatness that is Google: the company certainly has radically
revolutionized how the planet searches for and seeks out information.
Yet, THE INTERNSHIP really has nothing more to comment on beyond
its unwavering hero worship of the omnipotent company.
Too much of the time, the film feels like a 119 minute infomercial
that reaps unconditional love for Google without probing deeper into what
makes the company tick. Clearly,
having the company cooperate with the production must have had something
to do with this.
Speaking of 119
minutes, why is this film...119 minutes?
Comedies work best when they are breezy and have momentum, but THE
INTERNSHIP feels far too bloated and self-indulgently long considering its
prosaic and mundane scripting. The film takes an awfully long time to generate any serious
comic energy and never really scores any tangible monster belly laughs
throughout (a would-be hysterical cameo by Will Ferrell – playing a
manager of a mattress retailer that Wilson works at briefly – is about
as dead-on-arrival for laughs as anything Ferrell has been a part of).
Then there’s the clunky and rushed subplots, like Lyle’s crush
on a…ahem…Google dance instructor (Jessica Szohr) that adds little to
the overall film other than to pad it down with filler.
An impromptu evening out at a night club for Billy, Nick and the
other fellow interns seems like its been appropriated from dozens of other
Still, Vaughn and
Wilson are so damn likeable on screen and the way they exchange dizzying
banter at times is not as easy as it appears; it certainly requires
lightning quick comic timing and improvisational gusto to pull off.
And even though they have played umpteen lovable loser roles
before, the duo has the market cornered on playing them well.
At least this time they are acknowledging their ever-advancing
years (as Wilson amusingly tells Vaughn during one pep talk, “You’re
tough! You grew up in the
70’s! You didn’t wear a
bike helmet!"). Lesser comic
actors would have made the overall material in THE INTERNSHIP borderline
unendurable, but Vaughn and Wilson make it more digestible.
Alas, their bravura on-screen misfits-in-arms rapport is not enough
to totally erase THE INTERNSHIP’s obligatory and lazily scripted