Director: Shawn Levy
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi
Running time: 119 minutes
Release Date: July 3
A segment about tech giant Google on CBS show 60 Minutes inspired Vince Vaughn to write the script for The Internship. Struck by how alien the informal working environment at the multinational corporation seemed to a man of his 43 years, and mindful of the fact that many of his unemployed contemporaries had been forced to compete for jobs in this brave new working world as a result of recent economic turbulence, the popular Chicagoan set to writing. The end result, he believes, is ‘a movie of this moment we live in’.
Vaughn may have been striving for the particular, but he does a hell of a good job in rehashing the familiar with this movie, which is essentially a tale about the underdog on the ropes busting a gut to fight back against all odds. Wedding Crashers buddies Vaugn and Owen Wilson are reunited as a pair of watch salesmen whose positions become obsolete because of declining sales. Cast adrift and lacking in skills applicable to the 21st century workplace, the forty-somethings apply for an internship programme at Google, and their persuasiveness gets them in the door at the Googleplex in San Francisco. Once on campus the many interns are split into teams and assigned tasks for completion, and those with the most success will be rewarded with job offers. It’s the last saloon for the pair, who must overcome glaring skill deficiencies as well as self-doubt if they are to stand any chance of securing a viable future.
Google is synonymous with the slogan ‘Don’t be evil’, and Vaughn seems to have borne this in mind during the scriptwriting process. Anyone expecting an examination of the mechanics of power that exist behind the curtain at the company—as was the case with Facebook in The Social Network—will be disappointed. The Internship is more of a collaborative effort, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin even makes an appearance. It’s not quite an infomercial, and Vaugn is adamant that there is no product placement in the movie. But Google products do feature heavily, and the fact that Brin and Co clearly endorsed the project speaks for itself.
As for the plot development, well that’s formulaic and predictable. There is no shortage of gags but unfortunately these are seldom laughter-inducing. With such a weak script it seems pointless to dwell much on the performances of the two leads, except to say that they are at ease in one another’s company. Other than that The Internship has little to offer. Unless you’re under 12 that is—then you’ve got two favourite-uncle types with good hearts bumbling their way through a misadventure, ably supported by a cast of non-threatening misfits who stand on the threshold of adulthood but remain just about goofy enough to be able to identify with.
Despite his proclamations, Vince Vaughn hasn’t managed to capture the zeitgeist with this latest venture. Yes, it touches on issues such as older people struggling to come to grips with the rapidly-increasing role played by technology in a post-industrial, knowledge-based economy. But not in any meaningful way. What The Internship does represent is a Disneyfication of the times we live in, neatly packaged for general consumption and indistinguishable from so many of its happy-go-lucky predecessors.