Film Reviews

The Internship

If Vince Vaughn’s as good as a salesman in real life as he is in his latest movie, I’m not surprised Fox agreed to empty their pockets to make “The Internship” – the guy he plays in this elongated company training video could sell a poop-smeared dial-up modem to a PHP programmer (note : that isn’t a scene from the film, but should’ve been).

So what has Vaughn suckered Twentieth Century Fox into? Anyone for the cinematic equivalent of one of William Shatner’s Priceline commercials – with Vaughn and co-star Owen Wilson playing celebrity spokespeople for the internet giant, Google?

They’re selling it as a movie.

Here’s the plot : A couple of forty-something buddies (Vaughn, Wilson) hit the skids when they lose their jobs as watch salesman (because, of course, nobody wears watches anymore; they simply check the time on their phones). Vaughn’s character – the one who can never see anything through, according to his newly-ex girlfriend – comes up with the ingenious idea to combine their proven skills in selling and marketing with the biggest technology company on the planet, Google. With some trickery and whimsical words, the duo get themselves short-term Internships at the Willy Wonka-like Google headquarters in San Francisco – alongside a bunch of brainy youngsters – but in order to snag themselves full time employment, their team has to beat the other groups in a series of tests (be it inventing an app, finding a bug in some code, or selling the most ads to a business).

In 2005 Vaughn and fellow ‘frat packer’ (that’s the nickname Hollywood’s given the A-list comedy superstars of today; imagination up the wazoo, right!?) Wilson made New Line a mint, Isla Fisher a ‘star’, and wedding’s ‘funny’ again (or does Nia Vardalos get credit for that?) with their randy nuptials laffer “Wedding Crashers”.

Difference between it and Vaughn and Wilson’s new flick? Vaughn had no hand in the writing of the earlier project.

What this ‘Wedding Crashers’ reunion proves is that typewriters and “Frat Packers” don’t mix. “The Internship”, delegating story and screenplay credits to Vaughn (plus a producing credit to boot!), is as broken as Owen’s nose.

And the fact that the inner elements of the film have dated before it’s even on screens (you never set a film around a pre-existing company, let alone real form of technology. One call to “Brainscan” star Eddie Furlong could’ve prevented that, guys!) isn’t even so much the problem here, as it is the execution. Had the laughs been there, a fun story been there, and some great characters been on screen, the thing could’ve been set at Atari headquarters and it would’ve scored higher marks.

You see, Vaughn’s yarn is such a large fart of nothing that it was likely written on crib notes with all of them pre-approved by Google themselves before production started. More so, the once-dependable actor and funnyman (“Baby, that was money! Tell me that wasn’t money”) seemingly set out with an inexplicable determination to make something cleaner and more PC than his and Wilson’s previous film – which, let’s admit it, worked mostly because of the fabbo dirty humour and unrestrained ridiculousness it boasted. So, again, did Google have some mandatory’s set that the film had to appeal to ‘anyone but the Wedding Crashers crowd’? Is that why the film seems more intent on pleasing the technology company’s potential shareholders than its target audience (whoever it is)?

Or did Vaughn leave his mojo back under Jennifer Aniston’s massage table? (before Justin Theroux claimed it for himself).

Whatever the case, a drive combining particles of writer Vaughn, Google plugs, “Night at the Museum” director Shawn Levy, and techno-babble is riddled with bugs.

OK, I’ll loosen my ‘snoot’ cap for a minute and say there’s a couple of bright moments – Rose Byrne’s adorable in anything she does (here she does Owen Wilson), there’s a slightly-amusing reference to “Flashdance” (Jennifer Beals movie talk being a sure way to win over the kids of the ’80s), a fun sight gag involving the sport played in the “Harry Potter” films, and the young cast – including “Teen Wolf” regular Dylan O’Brien and Brit actor Max Minghella (“The Social Network”) – try hard, but the only thing you’ll really take away from the thankfully-short flick is : Google looks like a great company to work for, and boy do they have great people working for them. Which reminds me, I must call their very helpful technical-support line to have them sort out my spam filtering issue with my Gmail account.

Note : This review has not been paid for, sponsored or written by a former Netscape intern.

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