Movie Review: The Internship

I went into this movie with fairly low expectations, partly because it seemed to be an extended advert for Google, but also because despite being fan of both Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, it’s been a while since either made a movie I really dug (2007’s The Darjeeling Limited for Wilson and their previous team up Wedding Crashers from Vaughn back in 2005) and it’s been 8 years since their last team up in Wedding Crashers, although to be fair I did really enjoy that flick.

Thankfully, while the plot is a little simple and formulaic, both leads are on fine form and share an easy chemistry with each other. I’ve always found Vaughn’s brand of cocky slacker rather likable and I’ve had a man crush on Wilson since I first saw him in Shanghai Noon, where he stole the whole movie. Both are doing their usual shtick here, but it really works and they convince as two salesmen who get by on charm and the gift of the gab.

int pos

I kinda relaxed into the film at the start where they sing along to Alanis Morissette, and we see Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) go to pitch a new series of watches only to find out the company they work for has folded. Unemployed Nick winds up working for his sister’s douchebag brother (a cameo from Will Ferrell) until Billy hits on an idea for them to apply for internships at Google, which could lead to a job. Despite several objections from the committee  they manage to get into the programme.

Billy and Nick working hard for their place

Billy and Nick working hard for their place

When they arrive at Google’s idyllic San Francisco base they find themselves older than everyone else by a considerable margin, adrift in the hi-tech world and out of touch. Worse, the head of the programme, Chetty (Aasif Mandvi) doesn’t appear to like their laidback style or their old school approach towards things.

Regarded with amusement or scorn by everyone else they find themselves left out as teams are formed, but are taken aboard by nervous leader Lyle (Josh Brener) and bunched together with the other outcasts- Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael), a homeschooled kid with a pushy mother, sarky hipster Stuart (Dylan O’Brien) and slightly bitchy fangirl Neha (Tiya Sircar). Lyle attempts to engage them all, but his nerves make him struggle, and with intense competition for places the other three regard Billy and Nick as a hindrance and send them on pointless errands.

However, despite their lack of technical nous the older duo stick with it and soon begin to bind the team together thanks to their enthusiasm and life experience. They give the kids some advice, push them on and they work hard to win some of the challenges, especially as they’ve began to feud with douchey suck up Graham (Max Minghella, who despite being British pronounces his characters name Yank style “Gra-hm” not the British “Grey-ham“, a minor quibble I know but it bugged me throughout the flick). Their people-focused approach means they soon unite the team and work better.

Team bonding

Team bonding

Still in contention they still struggle with being out of touch, and Billy’s history of messing up opportunities hangs over him despite his free and easy bravado. Meanwhile, Nick has become infatuated with one of Google’s employees Dana (Rose Byrne), a driven workaholic with an acid tongue who he tries to chat up.

Can Nick convince Dana to relax and give him a shot? Will they be able to hold their own in what Nick calls a “mental Hunger Games”? And will this give them the opportunity to sort their lives out?

The answers to several of those questions are fairly easy to guess at, but aside from this it’s a fairly strong little film. Vaughn and Wilson revive their double act from Wedding Crashers with ease and do a great job of capturing their characters sense of alienation in a high-tech world. Granted, at times it feels as though their anti-tech lifestyles are a little forced, 5-10 years ago it might just about have made sense, but now with how big the internet has got it’s a little far fetched to believe that they’re that out of touch (Vaughn’s use of the phrase “on the line” instead of “online” is an example of this, although the scene works mainly because of the increasing frustration of the younger characters).

But aside from this it does kind of work, and it has the vibe of a sports movie without the sports. The whole unconventional cost has to bring together the disparate group to work together, and the protagonists have a similar style of using allegories and stories to fire up their crew, which is a common genre trait, even if here they use Flashdance for inspiration. Also, there’s a fun sequence where they play Quidditch, complete with half time rallying speech.

It’s basically all about how the young kids are too coddled by technology and need the old timers to teach them to get out there and live life, with an obligatory night out thrown in.

This could all be rather grating and dull, but the script is funny enough to carry it through and there are countless funny lines and some genuinely laugh out loud moments. 

The cast is great across the board, with the rest of their team doing well with their at times sparsely written characters. The Chinese guy with a pushy mother who stresses out over things is a bit of a cliche, but it’s made up by Tiya Sircar’s character who is a sweet, snarky delight as the confident intern and I must admit I came away a little smitten with her.

int tiya

Neha (Sircar) with Lyle (Josh Brener)

Rose Byrne, who impressed in Bridesmaids is sorely underused as Wilson’s love interest, and while she’s charming enough and gets a handful of funny lines, it’s a shame to see a good actress wasted.

The tone is light throughout and the jokes flow thick and fast to keep you laughing and it has a very sweet centre, and it’s a relaxing way to spend your time.

That being said, the selling of Google as this “garden of Eden” (a phrase actually used in the flick) for nerds and hipsters gets old very quickly as does the idea of “googleness” or whatever they call it. Hmm, but this corporate shilling aside, it’s a decent enough comedy and proves that Vaughn and Wilson are still capable of doing the business.

Verdict: It doesn’t quite match Wedding Crashers, but Vaughn and Wilson are on fine form and it’s a very funny movie. It’s a tad cliche, but very sweet in places and well done, even if at times it just feels like an extended advert for Google. 7/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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