Friday, June 7, 2013

Film Review: The Internship

I am a Vince Vaughn fanboy.

He is one of the last movie stars for me, in that I will see almost any movie if he is in it (that includes last year's dreadful The Watch).  But I find him funny and charming and he makes every movie that he is in a better movie.  And the same goes for The Internship.

The movie reunites Vince Vaughn with his Wedding Crashers partner in crime Owen Wilson.  The chemistry between these two has not lost any of its flavor.  They play salesmen at a watch company that goes under.  With few job prospects, Vaughn's character, Billy McMahon, gets the two of them a shot at an internship at Google in San Francisco.  There, they are divided into teams among their much younger and more educated competitors and are matched with the other left over misfits.  Together, they have to band together to blah, blah, blah... you get the idea.  In many ways it feels like Wedding Crashers-lite.

The story is formula with few surprises.  But that's fine.  The plot is simply a way to highlight Wilson's and Vaughn's comedic chops as they are thrust into every kind of fish out of water situation that they can get into.  And that is where the movie really sails.  In one scene where the team has to create an app, Vaughn keeps pitching an idea that everyone keeps telling him is Instagram.  And the more he elaborates, the more they try to explain he's describing Instagram.  This is scene is typical Vaughn, long on wit and charm but no actual knowledge backing him up as he suggests they put the app "on the line" for people to download.

The supporting cast is serviceable.  Aasif Mandvi plays the tough internship judge.  Rose Byrne is the uptight career woman love interest for Wilson's character.  Josh Brenner is the loner, Tiya Sircar is over sexualized outcast, and Tobit Raphael is the homeschooled Asian overachiever.

But the first half of the movie made me laugh at things like Vaughn trying to play Quidditch or Wilson trying to put up with an obnoxious boss (Will Ferrell in a cameo).

About halfway through the movie, the group of misfits goes for a night on the town as a kind of bonding exercise and end up at a strip club.  Now, the movie never goes beyond its PG-13 rating, but this scene took a lot of the wind out of the movie's sales for me.  It is nothing nearly as raunchy as what was in Wedding Crashers, but the age of the participants matters.  Rather than finding it goofy and funny, I saw two older guys taking a bunch of kids half their age on a night of drunken debauchery.  I found it more creepy than funny.  And while the scene does have a purpose to the story, I found I was less invested in the character's journey from that point forward.

But even so, Vaughn charms his way from this through the final act.  Director Shawn Levy fills this brightly colored world with enough joy that it makes you want to work at Google.

On that note, a lot has been made about how friendly this movie is too Google, so that it acts like one 90-minute commercial.  They are not wrong.  But I didn't have any real problem with that.  They could have easily done the Hollywood thing and made up tech company that was just like Google.  But the fact that Google is so recognized now throughout the world makes the scale and importance of the competition more intense.  Of course years from now, this movie could be as dated as references to MySpace.

So if you like Vince Vaughn and want to spend a diverting 90-minutes, see this film.

3 out of 5 stars

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