The Internship *1/2 (out of five)
The Internship, reuniting Wedding Crashers stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, desperately seeks to recapture the brilliance of that watershed buddy comedy, with tragic results. The film is formulaic to a terrible fault, unfunny, and – albeit unavoidably – one gigantic piece of product placement.
Vaughn and Wilson play of couple of wristwatch salesmen, Billy and Nick, made redundant by the fact that “everybody checks the time on their phones now” – the first of many brutally silly (and not in a good way) anachronisms, considering the film is set in the present day and not, say, 2002. This scene – their boss played by a slumming John Goodman – is embarrassing in its bizarre unmindfulness: Vaughn and Wilson stumble with lines about people “not liking computers” and the like, as though it were possible, in this day and age, for two dudes in their forties to have missed the computer revolution, let alone the internet revolution.
It gets worse. The lads apply to become interns for Google, get in, and off we go! Fish out of water, the fish being these two idiots and the water being the Google “campus”, here depicted as paradise on Earth. Stereotypes abound (The Villainous Englishman! The Nice Geek! The Indian Intern Leader!) Worse, formula abounds. What do you think could happen to these guys? Do you think, possibly, they might need to team up with some of the intern rejects, go into competition with the stuck-up Englishman and his brood, and maybe… triumph?
The total predictability of the plot is made much worse by the fact that each scene builds the plot without leaving air for jokes. It’s like a “perfect screenplay” as punched out of a computer program: Here’s the scene where they apply. Here’s the first day. Here’s the meeting with the cute girl. Here’s the scene where the English kid disses them. Here’s them stressing in bed after the first day. But no jokes. Just plot points. It’s a bullet-point movie.
Yes, they are both in one bed. Google did not give them a bed each. The film is chock full of dumb errors such as this. Were we meant to fall about laughing at the sight – gasp? – of Vaughn and Wilson in the same bed? That justifies the fact that a wildly insane company doesn’t have a bed for each intern.
Vaughn and Wilson flail, because Billy and Nick are not characters: they are simply these two hugely wealthy movie stars walking around trying desperately to be endearing, lovable and cute. Vaughn, especially, is at his worst trying to be endearing, lovable and cute. He’s been brilliant when his characters have some bite, some snarl, but his Billy is a total vacuum. Likewise, we’ve seen Wilson be perfect as goofy, or stoned, or romantic (in Midnight in Paris) but when your character’s only trait is “nice”… you’re lost. Having nothing to play, they play nothing, badly. It’s career worst for both of them, and it’s embarrassing, considering how talented they are and their fine bodies of work outside of this film.
Poor Rose Byrne, who has become Hollywood’s go-to RomCom beauty and who has been hilarious in other films recently, swims against a tsunami in her dreadfully written role. Example of what she has to work with: as she’s hurrying to an appointment, she has a meet-cute with Own Wilson’s Nick. He: “Nick, intern.” She: “Dana, late.” If that sophisticated wordplay tickles your funny bone, there’s another one hundred and nineteen minutes waiting for you.
Google was much cooler before this.