The laughs are temperate chuckles at best, perhaps it would have been better had it not been dumbed down for three-quarters of the time. The Internship won’t be mistaken for a David Fincher film, no less Ron Howard. It’s simply a Google promotional tool and a Vince Vaughn / Owen Wilson vehicle, coasting down a well-worn path of overgrown boys clichés directed by Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum,” “Real Steel”). Yet you might have found an edgy, spiked-barbed comedy had they whittled it down to a running time of 25 minutes.
The duo are 40-year old jobless guys. They were watch salesmen, who in their first major scene, were unaware that their own company has folded while they learn the bad news from their client at a supposed business dinner – an odd scene searching for a punchline. From there, we see Billy (Vaughn) has a really nice home despite it, but it’s not good enough for his high maintenance girlfriend. Nick (Wilson) is selling mattresses while taking peculiar orders from his boss (Will Ferrell in a funny cameo). Time for a mid-life makeover where they become really successful guys.
They just barely ham through a Skype interview to land, yes, an internship at Google. These fast talkers are better at a sales pitch than they are at the tech stuff. The barefaced reveal that they know nothing, absolutely nothing, is when they refer to internet surfing to “on-the-line” instead of simply “online.” Too thick-skulled, Billy and Nick often stand uncorrected by a company that requires perfection and punctuality, missing traits in them.
Predictably, they are bunched together in a team with assorted misfits (Indian girl, white dweeb on his cell phone, Asian fearful of social interactions, and the nerdy Paul Dano-like team leader). The team is given directions to debug a code and come up with a new app, and then some incongruous fraternity-like competition is thrown in. Lots of quick cuts are done in a sequence that depicts the fictitious Harry Potter game of Quidditch, but how that plays into getting a hired position is beyond me. Equally flashy is a strip club sequence, but alas, no job perchance points are given out for that one.
The interesting (and funny) performances are the small ones. Aasif Mandvi (“Margin Call”) is the internship program leader who is quick to slide in trick questions and criticize. Rose Byrne (“Knowing”) is a mid-level supervisor who becomes Nick’s romantic pursuit – yet a day later, I have trouble remembering her last scene. But on the other end of the spectrum, the absolute worst is Max Minghella as the cocky, ultra-competitive intern. He has been a fine actor elsewhere, but it’s like he’s channeling a one-note Jeremy Piven absent of charm and diplomacy.
Vaughn and Wilson are low-comedy bumblers in this case, but I could have easily accepted two hours of just having Mandvi run the program.
119 Minutes. Rated PG-13.
COMEDY / WORKPLACE / SATURDAY NIGHT CHUCKLES
Film Cousins: “In Good Company” (2004); “Wedding Crashers” (2005); “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006); “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006).