The point of an internship in real life is to lead to something better. Ironic because that’s what happens as I watched The Internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Also ironic because the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morrisette is featured prominently in the opening scene. We keep wanting the script to give us something more than a formulaic tale of two old-timers entering the tech world complete with cliched characters and stale jokes. It doesn’t.
The selling point of The Internship is obviously the reunion of Vaughn and Wilson eight years after their 2005 smash Wedding Crashers. It’s a little surprising just how safe this follow-up plays it. The most curious decision is to make it PG-13 when their first collaboration was heralded as a welcome return to raunchy R-rated comedy.
Vaughn and Wilson play watch salesmen whose company falls victim to the fact that everyone checks the time on their cell phone (though last time I checked, lots of people still own watches). The duo decide to apply for an internship at Google and they are grouped with a gang of much younger computer nerds. The team must face off against other teams, one of which is headed by a bully (Max Minghella, who appeared in the Citizen Kane of Internet films The Social Network).
None of this is particularly fresh or interesting. Vaughn and Wilson spend most of the movie coasting on their chemistry together, but the screenplay (co-written by Vaughn) doesn’t bring the funny. We also have a tacked-on romantic subplot between Wilson and Rose Byrne that is just dull. Even cameos by John Goodman and a certain comic superstar who also had a surprise appearance in Crashers add little to the proceedings.
Towards the third act of The Internship, we start to get the feeling through Vaughn and co-writer Jared Stern’s dialogue that they may have something worthwhile to say about the current tech age. There are nibbles here and there about how the younger generation can’t communicate with people as well as older generations. A scene where the two stars convince a business to join the computer age is fairly well-written. It mostly never materializes though.
The only serious problem I had with Wedding Crashers was it could have probably been fifteen minutes shorter and that same complaint applies here with its bloated 120 minute running time. Crashers had a heckuva lot going for it though. Real chemistry between Wilson and Rachel McAdams over a boring subplot here. Outrageous R-rated comedy over conservative PG-13 jokes. A truly hilarious Will Ferrell cameo over a forgettable one.
Anything with these two stars will have a few laughs and Vaughn and Wilson give us that occasionally. There’s no question, however, that when you do a Yahoo or Bing search on Best Vaughn/Wilson comedy, this won’t be it. I could have said another search engine company that you might have heard of, but they just got two long hours of product placement in the film I just watched.
** (out of four)