Dir: Shawn Levy
It has been eight years since 2005’s hit, Wedding Crashers, where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson played two friends who sneaked into weddings in search of romance. Now the double act have returned with The Internship, in which two salesmen are in search of something else: a job. Newly unemployed and distinctly old-fashioned, they apply to Google’s internship programme in the hopes of securing a place at the world’s trendiest technology company. They must compete against geeks, graduates and the expectations of Google’s employees if they are to succeed, but will their age and technical inability hold them back?
As plots go, The Internship’s is pretty formulaic: unlikely misfits must overcome the odds to reach the happy ending. Along the way the characters will have fun, grow as people and bond as a group, only to fall at the final hurdle. And just when all seems lost, the day will be saved. It’s nothing new, but then there’s nothing wrong with that – there will always be a place for easy-going, feel-good movies. Unfortunately, just as the characters in the movie can’t seem to grasp technology, Vaughn and Wilson haven’t quite grasped what made Wedding Crashers so enjoyable. They try far too hard to replicate its success, and ultimately they fail.
The major flaws are found in the script, written by Vaughn along with Jared Stern. Throughout the movie the dialogue is overworked and exaggerated, relying heavily on character stereotypes and the chemistry between Vaughn and Wilson to carry it. Unfortunately even this usually easy interplay isn’t enough, and many scenes lose their chance for laughter because the viewer is too busy grimacing. There are some good lines, but they are fewer and farther between than they ought to be.
The characters are mostly believable, though the actors get little chance to shine within the restrictions of the script and end up being constrained to bland stereotypes: the aloof ‘cool’ one, the quiet overweight one, the outgoing one who is secretly insecure, the workaholic. The notable exception is the chief antagonist, who lacks any obvious motivation for his maliciousness and as a result is more annoying to watch than anything. Character exposition is rarely a strong suit of feel-good comedies but it might have been useful here.
Some aspects of the movie are executed well. The exact nature of the internship scheme aside, the film does a good job of portraying what it’s like to be at Google, from the leafy campus with its multicoloured bicycles to the spaceship hanging in the foyer and the propeller hats that new Googlers wear. Notable effort has also been put in to ensure the technology in the film is true to life – a refreshing change from the ‘technobabble’ found in most movies – and there are some clever nods to tech culture (see if you can spot at least two cameos by Google’s CEO).
Ultimately, The Internship is an average movie buoyed by its co-stars and the quirkiness of being set at Google. Riding the coat tails of The Wedding Crashers it might have done well (The Onion called it potentially the biggest comedy of 2005), but in 2013 it’s a forced attempt at an outdated format. Watchable, but nothing more.