Friday, June 7, 2013

Review: The Internship

Nearly 10 years since their massive box office hit Wedding Crashers was released, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have teamed up again for The Internship. In their latest, Vaughn and Wilson play two salesmen who find out over dinner with a client that their company has gone under. Finding themselves unemployed with little in the way of marketable skills, Vaughn signs the duo up for an internship at Google, believing that their outgoing personalities will make up for what they lack in computer skills. Upon entering the Google campus, however, they discover that they are surrounded by fellow applicants that are half their age and an authority figure (Aasif Mandvi) who seems to be on a mission to kick them out.

From the very first scene it is clear that the easy chemistry Vaughn and Wilson showcased in Crashers hasn’t waned in the decade since. These two actors are never better than when they have a partner of equal strengths to trade zingers with onscreen, and an argument could be made that they are the best comedic duo of the past decade.

The screenplay, co written by Vaughn and Jared Stern (The Watch), attempts to meld characters borrowed from 80s buddy flicks with the product placement that modern Hollywood has turned to in order to finance their gigantic budgets. Vaughn’s Billy McMahon loses his job, house, and girlfriend all in the first five minutes, and upon discovering how wonderful Google appears, talks his slightly-more-adjusted best friend into dropping everything and joining him. This scenario is lifted almost beat for beat from Stripes, with Vaughn and Wilson slipping comfortably into the Billy Murray and Harold Ramis roles, the only difference being a change of scenery.

Where it would be easy to go wrong by pushing the “old guys fighting the young kids” scenario, the screenwriting duo and director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) display a light touch. They never have the partners outright complain about those crazy kids today; instead, the pair are caught off guard by things that could easily slip past folks in their 40s who aren’t addicted to the internet, such as cosplay and Instagram.

Where the script tends to fall flat is during the scenes in which the film has to remind the audience of how great a company Google is. For folks that hate characters holding cans of Coke uncomfortably to showcase the logo, this movie may cause strokes. Be prepared to walk out of the theaters knowing all of the benefits that Google offers their employees, such as free food, nap pods, a spiral slide inside the office lobby, and free transportation around town. In perhaps a nod toward reality, toward the end the kids tell the oldsters that they want to work there not only for the perks, but because new graduates coming out of college are lucky to find any kind of work these days.
The Internship may very well scare away a portion of their potential audience due to that flagrant brand hyping, and that’s a shame. Whether we knew it or not, there is a reason that Vaughn and Wilson chose this film as a renewing of their partnership, and anyone who enjoyed their previous films should appreciate the chemistry they will find here as well.