The Internship (2013)

Untitled-1Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play a couple of middle-aged wristwatch salesmen who have recently lost their jobs due to their company’s closure. Vaughn drives a Chrysler convertible, has a lovely house with a beautiful girlfriend, and is shown owning — and using — a computer. He has the assets of a well-to-do businessman. But we learn that his credit rating is in the negative, his house is due to be shut down, and his girlfriend wants to leave him (even though she loves him). I’d cry him a river if he wasn’t such an annoying monkey who doesn’t realise that his lifestyle isn’t a match for his movie’s plot.

He and his good buddy, Wilson, decide to apply for an internship at Google, because Google wants a massive commercial. An internship, of course, doesn’t guarantee a job, but our two heroes are too concerned with promoting an already popular company to worry about their income and life stability. At the interview, which is conducted online, via Skype or something, Vaughn and Wilson struggle to operate a webcam. It’s as if they’ve never heard of one, seen one, or used one before. I’m going to go back and point out that Vaughn’s house, car, and livelihood signify otherwise. He doesn’t look like he knows how to program an app, or write lines of code, but there’s no way he doesn’t know how to use a webcam. The scene is meant to be funny of course, but it isn’t. If I were the interviewers, I would’ve shut off the webcam as soon as Vaughn and Wilson started talking.

But that’s how this movie works; it functions on the basis that its two lead characters know squat about computers and technology. “You’re dinosaurs”, their boss tells them. So they do the only logical thing: Set out to prove him wrong, and change people’s lives in the process. They make it to the Google headquarters in California and are immediately surprised to find out that they are the oldest ones there. But it doesn’t stop them from trying to mingle and socialise as if they’re still just in their teens. And then, the movie loses its way. Very quickly. The most enjoyable part of it all is getting to see the Googleplex (yes, that’s what it’s called).

All the usual features of a loser-turned-champion story soon fall into place. The first is the challenge tournament that all the new interns — known as Nooglers — must compete in in order to land a job opportunity. They must do it in teams, and it comes as no surprise that Vaughn’s and Wilson’s team is made up of a bunch of losers who know no social skills, have no believable traits, and are deliberately quirky because, well, the movie’s more funny that way (the only female member, Neha, starts off her introduction by listing her sexual fantasies). They are also mentored by the loser employee, Lyle (Josh Brener), whose most significant contribution to the movie is when he’s called Gomer Lyle by Vaughn. We meet the repulsive arrogant swine, Graham (Max Minghella), who mistakes Vaughn and Wilson for “important” people, and then leads the rival team that’s made up of wordless freaks and geeks, chosen out of sheer amusement. They go head to head in the tournament, which has a scoring system that boggles my mind. It’s score-based, and only Vaughn’s and Graham’s teams are winning. Doesn’t that mean all the other teams don’t stand a chance and should be eliminated? Why are they still competing?

Graham’s team wins all the early rounds, because they are ruthless and very evil. Vaughn’s team can’t get along, that is until the old fogies decide to take them out for a night on the town. They hit up some clubs and strip joints, and magically form a cohesive unit that now can’t operate without each other. They high-five and cheer, and win some rounds of the tournament. But then Vaughn suffers a personal crisis, and backs out. At this point, we are expecting him to run into Lance Armstrong again. But director Shawn Levy doesn’t give us the satisfaction.

The Internship is written by Vaughn and Jared Stern, based on a story by Vaughn, who also acted in the 2004 hit, Dodgeball. Is it literary justice, then, that this movie is exactly the same as that one, but with different players and a different setting, and with jokes that aren’t as funny? What Levy, Vaughn, and Wilson pull off here is nothing but another Hollywood retread of familiar territory, where the losers win the day by realising that their provincial skills are more than necessary to teach a bunch of computer geeks a thing or two about the essence of life.

Best Moment | The Deliverance and Full Metal Jacket references.

Worst Moment | Everything else.

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