The comedy pairing of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn is back in The Internship. This time around, they play salesmen who lose their jobs and find being unemployed and in their forties a bad combination in these economic times. Their solution: competing in an internship program with kids half their age with degrees from the best Universities for a limited number of full time positions at Google.
What works about the movie is the chemistry between the cast. Vaughn and Wilson are completely comfortable with one another and regurgitate banter between themselves at every drop of a hat. Whether that’s your cup of comedic tea is another story but they do what they do in a seemingly effortless manner. The actors playing the rest of their team at Google (Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, Josh Brener, Tobit Raphael) fill out the required character elements for this underdog story and it’s easy for the audience to root for them. Sircar and Raphael, especially, provide energetic and quality performances; understanding their cliché roles but being sincere in the approach.
There are a number of subplots with varying degrees of resolution: the love story between Wilson and Rose Byrne, the relationship between the two ex-salesmen and their former boss (John Goodman), the status of Vaughn and his ex-girlfriend (JoAnna Garcia). While the first has a generally clear future, the other two are just left dangling in this predictable and somewhat lazy script. That’s not to say there aren’t funny moments, as myself and my guest at the screening found ourselves laughing at a number of occasions, but the screenplay has the structure of every other story about a band of misfits combining their quirks to defeat an arrogant and entitled opponent. It’s essentially just that framework done via Mad Libs style and presented on-screen as The Internship.
There’s also a sense that this movie should have been made five years ago. With any film about technology, being able to strike while the iron is hot is key. Google still dominates the online community, and this film will only further their generally positive perception. However, tying yourself to a specific and real entity means putting a timestamp on your story. It’s like making a movie about the airline industry using Pan Am; sure they were on top of the world (literally) at one time but having been out of business for decades, any movie about them would instantly tell the audience that you’re not in the present day.
Still, whether you go out and see The Internship relies on two factors: 1) Do you like the pairing of Vaughn and Wilson? 2) Are you simply looking for a fluffy and predictable, yet generally satisfying, diversion? The film hits most of its required beats at the standard intervals and is the very definition of a safe movie-going experience. It won’t be an instant classic or spawn a million quotes but audiences who can say yes to the two questions above won’t feel like they were cheated out of their money to buy a ticket and it’s innocuous but playful presentation will make it worth re-watching on the small screen when it hits free cable; though it’s not unique enough to really warrant adding to the DVD/Blu-ray/digital download library.
The Internship opens in theaters on June 7, 2013 and is rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language.