A film review by Craig J. Koban June 25, 2013


2013, PG-13, 119 mins.


Owen Wilson as Nick  /  Vince Vaughn as Billy  /  Tiya Sircar as Neha  /  Max Minghella as Graham   /  Josh Gad as Headphones  /  Josh Brener as Lyle  /  Dylan O'Brian as Stuart  /  Tophit Raphael as Yo Yo  /  Jessica Szohr as Marielena

Directed by Shaun Levy / Written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern

To say that THE INTERNSHIP gets by considerably on the totally money comedic pairing of stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson is a massive understatement.  

Vaughn’s affectionately motormouthed bravado serves as an effective foil to Wilson’s more boyish and innocent enthusiasm; when the pair is on screen you just find yourself instantly gravitating towards them in just about any scene that they inhabit.  They proved their dynamic duo comedic street cred in 2005’s crude and hysterical WEDDING CRASHERS.  Of course, this begs a simple question:  Why the hell have they not made more films together over the course of the last eight years? 

I have read how THE INTERNSHIP feels like a badly timed release for the pair, which does make a hill of beans worth of sense in the respect that it represents Vaughn and Wilson’s only cinematic re-team since 2005.  There is something to be said about how well THE INTERNSHIP would have played if it came hot on the heels of WEDDING CRASHERS’ release, but hindsight is indeed 20/20.  To be fair, the distance created between WEDDING CRASHERS and THE INTERNSHIP is probably a necessity, seeing as the two films could not be any more different.  WEDDING CRASHERS was an unapologetically hard-R rated nuptials-themed bromance, whereas THE INTERNSHIP is more of a decidedly soft-pedaled and kind-hearted PG-13 vehicle for its main stars.  That, and the film is one big gigantic hug/commercial ad for Google; more on the latter in a bit. 

Vaughn and Wilson are also a bit older and rougher around the edges here than their WEDDING CRASHERS counterparts.  As the film opens we are introduced to a couple of ace watch salesmen, Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson), who in tandem are so slick and smooth talking that could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.  Unfortunately for the pair, their company goes belly-up (everyone seems to be using their cell phones to check the time, making time pieces a dinosaur), so Billy and Nick find themselves pushing towards mid-40 with no employment opportunities in sight.  Billy has an epiphany one night while browsing online (or, as he would say, “on the line”) for jobs: he convinces the initially reluctant Nick to join him in applying for an internship at Google.  Once accepted (they fake their University and academic credentials), they will then have to endure a mentally strenuous internship and fight off hundreds of others for a chance to get a prized job at the iconic search engine corporation.   



Predictably, Billy and Nick feel immediately like over-the-hill fossils compared to the other barely-out-of-their-teens internees.  That, and they constantly feel the wrath of Mr. Chetty (THE DAILY SHOW’s very funny Aasif Mandvi), a soft-spoken drill sergeant, so to speak, of the internship program that relishes in relaying to Billy and Nick how unqualified they are.  Things get worse on their first day when the pair are picked over for work teams by all of the other tech-intelligent uber nerds, so they find themselves lumped in with some very smart, but unpopular underachievers in Neha (Tiya Sircar), Yo-Yo (Tophit Raphael), Stuart (Dylan O’Brian) and team leader, Lyle (Josh Brener).  Their main opposition is an elitist SOB with a smirk that you want to slap off of his face, Graham (the well cast Max Minghella) that loves to point out the inadequacies of everyone around him, including his own team members.   

Considering that the script was co-written by a smart chap like Vaughn, THE INTERNSHIP is awash in predictable formulas and clichés through and through.  The group of misfits that Billy and Nick find themselves trying to pseudo mentor while they, ironically enough, are being mentored by them, are a collection of character types: Yo-Yo is the emotionally subjugated geek that is constantly bullied by his tiger mom; Neha is nice and innocent on the outside, but sex-starved and hungry on the inside; Stuart is a hipster that is too cool to smile and always has his head buried in his smart phone; and Lyle is blindsided by his own delusions of coolness.  Furthermore, the underdog conventions that are presented here – where the aging stars have to convince themselves and their comrades in arms that they can win big in the end – hits every proverbial beat in the playbook.  There are no narrative surprises anywhere to be found in THE INTERNSHIP.   

Now…then there’s Google, which is pretty much one-sidedly portrayed as a near utopian compound where endless food is free, cars drive by themselves, and everyone has their own sleep pod for meditation.  It’s just…I dunno…perfect…maybe too perfect.  That, are the fellow staff members are smoking hot (Rose Byrne, who appears as the obligatory love interest to Wilson).  Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with a film praising the greatness that is Google: the company certainly has radically revolutionized how the planet searches for and seeks out information.  Yet, THE INTERNSHIP really has nothing more to comment on beyond its unwavering hero worship of the omnipotent company.  Too much of the time, the film feels like a 119 minute infomercial that reaps unconditional love for Google without probing deeper into what makes the company tick.  Clearly, having the company cooperate with the production must have had something to do with this. 

Speaking of 119 minutes, why is this film...119 minutes?  Comedies work best when they are breezy and have momentum, but THE INTERNSHIP feels far too bloated and self-indulgently long considering its prosaic and mundane scripting.  The film takes an awfully long time to generate any serious comic energy and never really scores any tangible monster belly laughs throughout (a would-be hysterical cameo by Will Ferrell – playing a manager of a mattress retailer that Wilson works at briefly – is about as dead-on-arrival for laughs as anything Ferrell has been a part of).  Then there’s the clunky and rushed subplots, like Lyle’s crush on a…ahem…Google dance instructor (Jessica Szohr) that adds little to the overall film other than to pad it down with filler.  An impromptu evening out at a night club for Billy, Nick and the other fellow interns seems like its been appropriated from dozens of other better comedies. 

Still, Vaughn and Wilson are so damn likeable on screen and the way they exchange dizzying banter at times is not as easy as it appears; it certainly requires lightning quick comic timing and improvisational gusto to pull off.  And even though they have played umpteen lovable loser roles before, the duo has the market cornered on playing them well.  At least this time they are acknowledging their ever-advancing years (as Wilson amusingly tells Vaughn during one pep talk, “You’re tough!  You grew up in the 70’s!  You didn’t wear a bike helmet!").  Lesser comic actors would have made the overall material in THE INTERNSHIP borderline unendurable, but Vaughn and Wilson make it more digestible.  Alas, their bravura on-screen misfits-in-arms rapport is not enough to totally erase THE INTERNSHIP’s obligatory and lazily scripted fish-out-of-water storyline.

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