The Internship is a better film than you might expect but one that isn’t as good as you would hope. It’s an Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn tag-team effort that hopes to recapture the same joy that filled Wedding Crashers, except without the R-rating, known names in the supporting cast, or a director who has ever made anything above a mediocre movie. You can see why expectations were subway levels of low, and it’s partially because of them that The Internship exceeds the middling predictions placed upon it.
The film begins with a couple of expert salesmen, Billy and Nick (Vaughn and Wilson), losing their jobs because their company closed down, and their boss (John Goodman, who has a grand total of two scenes) never told them. They decide that, despite a lack of technological literacy and actual workplace skills, they should get an internship with Google, which has a “better than not” chance of full-time employment. As we later find out, the interns are put onto teams, compete in challenges, and only the winning team, which consists of 5% of all interns, will be getting a job with the company.
Naturally, none of the brilliant twentysomethings want to deal with the older, more aloof gentlemen, so they find themselves on the team of misfits. Yes, we’re doing that story. The “head cheerleader” — meaning the one jerk on a competing team we have to keep seeing because we need a “villain” for some reason — in this case is Graham (Max Minghella), who is a jerk and nothing else. He is one of the most one-dimensional characters of the year.
There are some subplots, too, like when Nick attempts to woo a Google executive (Rose Byrne) who has no time for relationships, or even fun, as well as the attempt by both leads to transform their batch of outcasts into a true team, but all of these basically amount to an excuse for some idealized and “profound” speech about how one needs to live life. And since they’re all given by Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn, most of them aren’t delivered in a way that could be considered convincing.
That really does feel like what The Internship‘s main goal is: to function as a wake-up call to the hard-working young adults of today as seen through the eyes of the previous generation. The younger generation needs to learn let go a little. The film will resonate with both camps. If you’re over the age of 40, you’ll see a lot of yourself in Wilson and Vaughn’s characters, while if you’re just finding your way into or out of college, you’ll understand exactly where the other interns are coming from. And if you’re younger than that, I have to wonder why you’re watching an Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn comedy in the first place.
The film definitely puts us on the side of the older characters, and it isn’t them who need to do the growing; it’s everyone around them. The poses a little bit of a problem in that everyone else gets a character arc, but the two leads really don’t. And because they’re the only ones who get enough screen time to actually have an arc, this doesn’t work. When a supporting character completely changes in the course of a couple of scenes, something doesn’t feel right.
I can’t deny laughing quite a few times during The Internship. If this was a 90-minute comedy, it would probably have a good enough laugh-per-minute ratio to be worth seeing. However, one of the biggest problems is the length. This is a movie that plays for 119 minutes, which is far too long. Some scenes drag and could have easily been cut. Entire subplots are unnecessary. A more ruthless editor would have gotten the best out of this material, and might have made it something I could recommend.
It’s hard for The Internship to not feel like an advertisement for Google. Most of the proceedings take place at the company’s facilities, and it really does come across as some sort of workplace heaven. They have slides in addition to stairs! I mean, how is that not amazing? The filmmakers obviously had to keep the company in a good light in order to for the film to be made at all, but I know some people hate product placement and in this case “placement” means “it’s a plot device and present for almost the entire movie.”
The Internship can still be seen as something of a resurrection for Vince Vaughn, whose last good comedy was the aforementioned Wedding Crashers. Wilson’s record is better, but still not stellar. The film as a whole isn’t great but it’s at least watchable and contains a few laughs. Both actors are fine, and getting me to say Vince Vaughn was “fine” speaks highly of both his performance and director Shawn Levy, who has a new “best” film on his lackluster resume.
I don’t want to say that The Internship is something you need to see, but if you happen, by chance/inebriation, to be watching it, you’ll have an okay time with it. It has a few very funny moments and a handful of other laughs. It also has “inspirational” speeches that fall flat, secondary characters who undergo more changes than the leads (but for little reason), more advertising for Google than anyone needs, and only two scenes with John Goodman. All of these negatives and it’s still better than a lot of comedies released nowadays — some of which even have John Goodman in them. Huh.