MOVIE REVIEW: Wilson, Vaughn comedy is one ‘Internship’ that doesn’t pay

Jun. 06, 2013 @ 07:14 PM

“The Internship” revolves around the evolving job market and is set in one of the epicenters of technological innovation. But as a movie, it’s a cookie-cutter comedy constructed with cardboard characters, dim-witted dialogue and pedestrian plotting (Google “alliteration”). Oh, it’s also a two-hour commercial.

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson go from “Wedding Crashers” to Google crashers as Billy and Nick, unemployed and outmoded salesmen in search of the next big phase of their professional lives. Inspired by the nocturnal glow of their computer monitor, they apply for unpaid summer internships at Google. Despite possessing no discernable computer programming skills, referring to Web surfing as being “on the line” and not even owning a laptop with a webcam, the two forty-somethings yammer their way through an online interview and onto the Silicon Valley giant’s California campus. There they find an Oz-like land populated by tech-heads and a hipster work culture that includes neon-colored bicycles, free food and sleep pods.

You won’t find a more dedicated Googlephile than me, but incessantly name-checking the company’s online products, spotlighting its breezy workplace and foisting its “make the world a better place” corporate mantra neuters any sardonic edge. Vaughn and Wilson noticeably pull their punches in the midst of a setting ripe for their brand of cutting comedy. It’s no accident that the film’s funniest scene is an intramural Quidditch match that permits the co-stars to channel their satire in directions that don’t directly indict the Google brand, including Billy’s motivational references to “Flashdance.”

Underneath the modern-day milieu is a standard fish-out-of-water chuckler that leans on lazy stereotypes to pad plot. Divided into intern groupings, the ostracized Billy and Nick find themselves partnered with a gang of misfit Nooglers. They include an Asian tiger mama’s boy with a penchant for self-mutilation and a sexually repressed Indian girl who is a closeted cosplay enthusiast. There’s the guy who wants to date Google’s Latina dance instructor and the brooding malcontent who can’t see the world beyond his smartphone.

The only thing needed for them to find true happiness isn’t realizing their dream of landing a job at a worldwide Internet leader, but instead a night of ribald revelry at a strip club compliments of a couple of ne’er-do-wells. It only takes a few shots, lap-dance induced ejaculations and a bar fight to turn these intelligent, ambitious, but obviously flawed youngsters into “normal people.” Meanwhile, Nick breaks one of, like, only three rules issued to the summer interns by romantically pursuing Dana (Rose Byrne), an executive workaholic (we don’t know why) whose job (we don’t what what) involves running to and fro an endless series of meetings (we don’t know what for), because what this successful, attractive and single woman has clearly been waiting for is a broke, 40-year-old summer intern to sweep her off her feet.

There isn’t a genuine moment throughout the film, from its pseudo life lessons to the hint of an Indian accent that Aasif Mandvi slaps on, I suppose to make himself more believable as a Google supervisor. Even the Nooglers’ important task of manning the Google helpline for a few hours features the sort of troubleshooting I could handle. In the mood for a summer movie laugher? Well, open your Google Chrome browser and search for movie showtimes, use Google Maps to find the nearest theater, drive there with the help of Google Navigation on your smartphone, and use Google Wallet to buy a ticket to any comedy besides “The Internship.”