Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Internship (2013)

My old, cynical self watched the first 20 minutes or so of The Internship with my arms folded across my chest, without so much as a smile on my face.  It's not that The Internship wasn't funny at all, it was that nearly every laugh during this time were all things I've seen in the trailer.  Then I thought, is that really the movie's fault?  Everyone else is laughing, and I'm betting these people don't see nearly as many movies as I do.  Would I be laughing more if I hadn't seen that trailer like 20 times this year?

After The Internship blows its trailer-wad, I warmed up to it a bit.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a great film, but I found myself chuckling a few times.  The humor's a little one-note though, and some gags are repeated a few too many times.  It's easy to say that the film is really trying to get by on the charm of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.  I'm sure that's what Vaughn thought when coming up with the story and co-writing the screenplay (co-wrote with Jared Stern).  The Internship hits all the typical beats, and busts out every underdog, and some rom-com, cliche they could throw at you.  Even the soundtrack has a cheesy, familiar feel to it.  Director Shawn Levy's resume doesn't exactly strike you with the number of huge hits, and he really doesn't take any chances here.  It's all very paint-by-numbers.

The Internship recycles so many plot elements that you'll have the whole movie figured out within that first 20 minutes.  I realized around that point that I was basically watching a retread of any high-school or college comedy where competing cliques or frats go at each other.  It's like a mix of Revenge of the Nerds, only the jocks are just type-A nerds, and Old School, where the dean is replaced by a snooty, disapproving boss (Aasif Mandvi).

Watch salesmen Nick (Wilson) and Billy (Vaughn) find themselves out of work after their owner (John Goodman, who's in everything these days) decides to close up shop without warning.   Unsure what to do next, Billy decides to dream big and takes a chance at getting an internship at Google.  The condition of the internship at Google is that they are grouped up and given a series of challenges.  The team with the best score gets guaranteed jobs.  Nobody wants to get paired with the old dudes, so Nick and Billy end up with a group of cast-offs.  Even the cast-offs aren't wild about being grouped up with fast talking guys with no tech skills.  Do you think the group will eventually come together and rally?  Oh, the suspense...

On a side note, I live fairly close to Google (as well as use their blog software), but I've never heard anything about their actual internships being as cutthroat or competition based as in the movie.  My research shows that while they got the culture part right about Google, the competition is mostly a fabrication likely added for dramatic purposes.  Everyone I've ever talked to has said it truly is the most amazing place to work.

What needs to be said about Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson at this point?  They give you exactly what you expect from them: Vaughn's hypercharged, stream-of-consciousness rants, and Wilson's aw-shucks charm.  They are pretty much playing the same characters they've always played.  At one point there's a reference to the fact that they've known each other since they were kids, and I couldn't help but think that wasn't that also the case in Wedding Crashers.  They might as well have named the characters the same and just called it John and Jeremy go to Google.  The next film can be John and Jeremy join the Army and it can be a retread of Stripes.

The rest of the cast is fine.  The group rounded out with Dylan O'Brien, Tiya Sircar, Josh Brener and Tobit Raphael.  I thought Raphael was funny, in particular.  Max Minghella effectly plays the main antagonist, and you want to just punch his character in the face the whole film.  Rose Byrne also stars as Owen Wilson's main crush.  I could have used a little more Byrne in the film, but that's probably due to my crush on her.

The Internship isn't reinventing the wheel, and for some of you this may feel all too familiar.  I do think that it's a crowd-pleasing film, but a lot of it is going to come down to whether or not you're tired of Vaughn and Wilson's act, or this formula in general.  I warmed it up to it as it went on, and got a few laughs out of it, so I guess I can't quit these guys just yet.  This hasn't been a good year for comedy, but I'm guessing this is going to likely to be the most successful of the Summer due to it's mainstream appeal.  I call it a matinee.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars

(Note: Originally I gave this 3 Death Stars, but upon reflecting, I'm knocking this down a bit.)

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