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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Internship Movie Review

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are at it again, this time as sales team Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson). The pair find out at a pitch from their client that their boss (John Goodman) has closed shop. Out of work, Billy gets the idea for them to apply for a summer internship with Google.

Director Shawn Levy and writers Vaughn and Jared Stern won't wow you with any curve balls in this comedy. The plot has two affable midlifers in a crisis; a bold risk landing them in a new environment; the transformation from outsiders to valued members of a team; the lead calling it quits, only to have his buddy coax him back; the great success at the end; and the positive impact on all they meet.

Supporting our WASPy heroes, a common corral of blockbuster stereotypes: 
- Mr. Chetty (Aasif Mandvi), the by-the-book, immigrant who heads the intern program
- Lyle (Josh Brener), a 20-something Woody Allen-type, team lead, only a year older than most of the interns for whom he's responsible
- Stuart (Dylan O'Brien), the ugly-pretty kid who, without the artistic bent of Ally Sheedy in "The Breakfast Club", still ends up on the reject team
- Neha (Tiya Sircar), the young virgin of color who acts the freak
- Yo-yo (Tobit Raphael), a neurotic Asian #1 son who needs to cut the apron strings (yes, "Yo-yo")
- And a prep school strawboy villain (Max Minghella).

Despite the typing, the younger actors are the most enjoyable cast in the film.

"The Internship" tacks on a couple of successful, SNL-style cameos as non-sequitur bookends to the time spent at Google. Will Farrell's cameo is exactly what you'd expect and saves the film from dying before it's out of the gate.

The opening sequence where the bros get psyched for their sales meeting by listening to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" plays flat, unlike the send-up Kristin Wigg and team made of Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" in "Bridesmaids". The best part of the comedic writing are the tech jokes, though only your techie friends may catch them. The dialogue for our loveable dinosaurs is at times embarrassing, as if these 40-something super-salesmen not only don't have any tech chops, but they must have been living in a gulag the last 20 years.

As for love interests, Lyle has Marielena, Nick has Dana, and Billy has had Megan. It's beauty and the geek with Marielena and Lyle. She teaches dance classes at Google. We discover later that she is also an exotic dancer, to supplement her freelance at Google and pay for college. 'nough said (literally; I don't think she has any other lines in the movie).

Owen Wilson skypes in the part of Nick. With all his usual charm, he goes after the workaholic, Dana (Rose Byrne), eventually winning her over, while he also develops his web skills.

The audience gets a hello-goodbye with Megan (JoAnna Garcia Swisher). Her scene opens as she gives Billy an earful about an eviction notice and ends with her lament: Billy is a great guy, but he always manages to let people down. As Billy seems unflappable elsewhere, having made this important plot point, no reprisal is needed from Megan.

While Vaughn and company do little to develop the buddy film tropes, its success as a feel-good, mentors-newbies comedy provides some redemption. It plays like a low-res, bittorrent of "Meatballs", with twenty-somethings on the Google campus replacing a group of disheveled campers at a dilapidated summer camp.

Where, for example, "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" ends like a commercial for the Miami Dolphins, "The Internship" does a better than expected job of making Google integral to the plot. Bigger, even, than Google, Billy and Nick show us that putting people first, being perpetually positive, discovering "Googliness" while showing others to stop worrying and love the free market, are the secrets to success and, thus, happiness.

But the most jarring product placement is the Vince Vaughn brand. Bizarre scenes of Vaughn obsessing over food; a bar fight with shockingly violent jump cuts of our hero; and Billy and Nick's relish during the second half of a Quidditch match, where they dominate an opposing team of nubile twenty-somethings, stuffing quaffle after quaffle through the goals. Caught between ideal leading man and comedic doofus, Vaughn almost comes off schizophrenic.

No fees for on-site shooting and script reviews must have helped Vaughn sell his idea. No fees for product placements in a film that embraces all our myths of Google while keeping Google on-screen for the majority of its 1 hour 59 minutes is bound to yield excellent ROI for Google. But as Google already has arguably the world's most in-demand intern program in the world, Vaughn may be the biggest beneficiary here.

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