(by Dustin Putman
When Vince Vaughn (2011's "The Dilemma") and Owen Wilson (2011's "Midnight in Paris") last joined forces on screen, it was in 2005's box-office hit "Wedding Crashers." Instead of going the sequel route or repeating what they've already done for a follow-up, Vaughn and Wilson shed the mean-spirited, R-rated skin of "Wedding Crashers" for the safer, more polite, PG-13-rated charms of "The Internship." The results are certainly more innately palatable, but Vaughn, co-writing the script with Jared Stern (2012's "The Watch"), and Wilson have yet to find that special project to take their easy-going comedic talents to the next level. "The Internship" is ceaselessly low-stakes and formulaic to a fault. Pleasant? On occasion. Laugh-out-loud funny? Rarely. Article continues below
When the company they work for goes under, watch salesmen Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) are suddenly left jobless. Just as Nick is ready to settle, going to work for his unbearable brother-in-law (Will Ferrell) at a mattress warehouse, Billy gets a crazy idea he quickly puts into action, registering the both of them for online college courses so that they can be eligible to intern for the summer at Silicon Valley's Google Headquarters. Moving to San Francisco, Billy and Nick are thrown for a technological culture shock at Google, fish in a giant fishbowl suddenly vying for coveted permanent positions. As these 40-year-old "dinosaurs" expand their knowledge and befriend their gaggle of much-younger teammates—among them, team manager Lile (Josh Brener), uptight Stuart (Dylan O'Brien), sheltered straight-arrow Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael), and fashionable outsider Neha (Tiya Sircar)—Billy and Nick come to realize that their future prospects might just be brighter than either one could have imagined.
Directed by Shawn Levy (2010's "Date Night"), "The Internship" is a curious concoction of low-key humor, jokey intellectualism, and, with the exception of painfully one-note bad-guy competitor Graham (Max Minghella), an overreaching niceness that doesn't dare offend anyone. The real-life Google, which allowed for at least some of the filming to take place on location, is a quirky, different setting for a movie, and it's interesting to get a look at how the company unconventionally conducts business. No one should be surprised if the number of applicants shoots skyward after release. Otherwise, the film lacks a much-needed bite. There's a Quidditch match amongst employees that goes on too long. The team challenges—creating an app; manning the Google helpline; selling other companies on their site—are curiously uncinematic and nothing imaginative is done with them. There's also the matter of how much Billy and Nick can conceivably learn over a summer of interning when they enter the job knowing little to nothing about programming and even confuse "on the line" for the elementary term "online."
For sure, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson make for a pleasing pair, Vaughn's more gregarious, outspoken persona a nice yin-yang counterpoint to Wilson's aw-shucks, eager-to-please sincerity. Their characters of Billy and Nick play right into their own typecasting, but they are roles they play well. As Dana, a workaholic exec at Google whom Nick flirts into submission, Rose Byrne (2011's "Bridesmaids") makes the most of a part that is never given the time to grow beyond that of mere "love interest." The too-few scenes between Wilson and Byrne are some of the best in the film; their chemistry is terrific, and it's a nice respite from the central workplace plot at hand. Also shining in a supporting role is Tiya Sircar (2009's "17 Again"), as the inexperienced, fashion-forward Neha; a heart-to-heart talk she shares with Billy after a night out on the town as they watch the sun slowly rise over the Golden Gate Bridge is lovely. The camera loves Sircar, and hopefully she get bigger roles based on her work here.
"The Internship" likely takes plenty of liberties in its portrayal of working at Google, but that goes with the territory of developing a fictional comedy about an actual locale. At 119 minutes, the movie goes down surprisingly easy considering its long-winded length and predictability. Watching the film, it's difficult to get too excited about anything; choosing a tone that bypasses raucous party-boy humor for something quieter and more reserved, it's as if the humor was forgotten about half the time. Indeed, "The Internship" seems content to settle on middle-of-the-road. Such mediocrity wouldn't pass muster at Google, and it doesn't here, either.