Film Film Reviews

Review: The Internship Fails to Re-Capture That Old Wedding Crashers Charm

In the new Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn team-up film The Internship, there is a running joke that most of the supporting characters initially presented as cold to the charms of the two Wedding Crashers stars will eventually be won over by their admirable persistence.  At one point, when Wilson is presented with yet another pithy rejoinder from Dylan O’Brien’s snarky iPhone-obsessed character he confidently jokes to Vaughn that he can’t wait to crack through the kid’s defenses and become friends.  This is especially apt as The Internship is a film initially dull and lifeless which does, mostly through sheer persistence, eventually, crack through the viewer’s shell a little bit.  However, this charm disappears as quickly as it appeared due to a rather regrettable final conflict and resolution sequence.


Teaming up for the first time since 2005’s Wedding Crashers, Wilson and Vaughn star as Nick and Billy, two sales partners made unnecessary due to the march of technological progress.  When their departing boss (John Goodman, who is gone before you even have a chance to say, “Holy crap!  John Goodman is in this?”) mentions Google while firing them, Vaughn gets the idea that Google is the place to be, and he wants his partner to go with him.  So, through some really shady logic and a painfully unfunny Skype interview (consists mostly of your basic “older people don’t understand technology” jokes) between Wilson/ Vaughn and two Google recruiters our heroes end up selected for a Summer internship with Google in San Francisco.

How do you make a bad job interview over a webcam funny? Have Vince Vaughn refuse to shut up during the whole thing and hope people mostly let it pass because they once liked him though they can’t remember why.

To this point in the movie, there are two problems:

First, it takes a pretty serious suspension of disbelief to buy the film’s entire premise, which is that these guys could actually get internships at Google.  It’s like when they wrote the screenplay they mapped out “Point A – Guys fired from job” and “Point C – Get Internship at Google” but forgot about Point B.  Or maybe it’s supposed to be ironic humor that these two guys get away with lying on their resumes to the one place (Google) that created the search engine (again, Google) which could easily be used to catch them in the lie.

Secondly, it is simply unfunny.  Vaughn and Wilson are doing their Wedding Crashers schtick, but the jokes aren’t landing, and most of the time you just really want the motor-mouthed Vaughn to please, for the love of all that is good, stop talking.

The same goes for an especially odious early cameo from Will Ferrell, pictured here in better times in Wedding Crashers.

It gets a little better.  Once the action shifts to San Francisco for the internship to begin, the 50-75 (if the film gives an exact number I missed it) uniformly freakishly young interns are paired into teams of six and forced to engage in a series of challenges.  So, that is to be the film’s basic formula.

What are the stakes?  By the end of the Summer, whichever team of interns wins will be offered full-time employment with Google.

Where’s the conflict?  There is an evil team, headed by the film’s dickish but unfunny villain (Max Minghella) who is especially antagonistic toward Wilson/Vaughn.

Where’s the sympathy?  The Wilson/Vaughn team is full of the losers no other team wanted.

Where’s the romance?  Wilson almost immediately begins courting Rose Byrne’s (getting to speak with her native Australian accent for a change) workaholic  Google Manager character.

So, it’s basically House Slytherin versus House Gryffindor (or Hufflepuff) and Harry Potter is trying to make with the nice-nice with the new hot female Defense Against the Dark Arts professor (heck, even the villain speaks with a British accent).  Or, to compare it to something in the Vince Vaughn wheelhouse, it’s like the second act of Old School in which the fraternity of oddballs has to come together as a team and do all of the challenges to become an official fraternity, except here the prize is employment at Google.

The lovable misfits from The Internship.

In the The Internship, the group of oddballs in addition to Wilson/Vaugh is comprised of an attractive girl of Indian descent (Tiya Sircar) who overcompensates for her lack of experience, an overworked Asian kid (Tobit Raphael) with an overbearing mother, and a snarky kid (Dylan O’Brien) who dislikes everything and is constantly on his phone.  All five are mentored by a 23-year-old Google employee who talks like someone who has listened to too much hip-hop but has no idea how to talk to women (Josh Brener).  It is in watching the bonding experience between the team where the film finally presents slightly enjoyable if predictable, material.

For example, a night on the town yields some genuine laughs.  Wilson/Vaughn benefit from getting four other characters to play off of, and the film digs a little deeper into the characters, offering a welcome take on the generational divide between the millennials and two guys who never met an 80s reference they didn’t like.

The look of acknowledging diminished returns.

Of course, like In Good Company before it The Internship attempts to address modern trends in business by re-asserting the importance of people skills and experience, thus championing the older guy.  However, it is an argument easier to take if the product is funnier, and The Internship just ain’t that. It is no coincidence that the film becomes more enjoyable during the stretch where the brashness of Vaughn’s character is toned down, and Wilson’s surfer guy charm takes the lead.  Vaugh, in particular, now has the look of a man too old to still be playing the same role over and over again.  The supporting performances from Brener and Sircar, in particular, are delightful whereas everyone else, like Rose Byrne, is mostly perfectly fine playing rather average material.

On the technical end, the directing from Shawn Levy only becomes an issue during the job interview in the beginning, as it is shot so that we see Vaughn and Wilson exactly as the recruiters would meaning their too-close-to-the-webcam faces practically assault the audience.

Thank God it wasn’t in 3D.

Levy and his production team do succeed in making Google headquarters, with its assortment of indoor niceties (nap pods, a-freakin’ slide, open-spaced offices) and outdoor playfulness (volleyball courts, beautiful landscaping, freakin’ Google-colored bikes), look like a fantasy workplace come true.  The script from Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern fails to completely establish a sense of time and place, as it more assumes we know the internship is taking place over the course of an entire summer than tells us.  As a result, it is possible to get to the end of the film and have no idea if this was all supposed to have happened in one week or over several months. Moreover, a rather Wedding Crashers-esque final conflict simply pads the already too-long running time with unfunny material.

The Internship appears to be destined to join the list of film re-teams which failed to capture the magic of the original (e.g., Speed’s Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves re-teaming for The Lake House, Pretty Women’s Julia Roberts and Richard Gere re-teaming for Runaway Bride). Wilson and Vaughn are giving it their best, but The Internship ultimately has many of The Wedding Crashers flaws while failing to cover it up with sufficient humor.  This is one internship you should turn down.

That’s Good?: Owen Wilson is good; Fun discovering some of the young supporting cast members (Josh Brener, Tiya Sircar); Clever end credit crawl incorporating various Google apps

That’s Bad?: Not very funny; Drags in the beginning and the end; horribly unfunny cameos from Will Ferrell and (especially) Rob Riggle; too much Vince Vaughn; the film is like one giant commercial for Google.

Can I Go Now?: In the last act, Josh Brener’s character wears a t-shirt featuring the album cover art for Pearl Jam’s Vs.  As a Pearl Jam fan, I am duty-bound to report this.

See It – Stream It – Skip It: Skip It

The Trailer: You‘re probably better off just watching the trailer instead of paying to see the full thing.

What do you think? Seen the film and agree/disagree?  Leave a comment.


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