In this digital age, there is barely a day when we don’t sit at our computers and search for something on Google. In The Internship, directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Real Steel), Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) have just been given the news from their boss that a computer is capable of doing their jobs. Nick is immediately pressured into taking on a dead end retail sales position, while Billy looks to the Internet for prospects. Despite not being anywhere near qualified enough, they manage to talk themselves into an internship at Google. Teamed up with a group of misfits, they are the joke of the program. By showing up with the right attitude and taking advantage of their life experience in place of their limited savvy, these personable everymen gradually win over their team members, continue to surprise their pessimistic director, and bring an understanding of humanity to a digital giant. In a predictable but surprisingly funny fish-out-of-water journey, fueled by the leads’ infectious chemistry, they mentor the upstart youngsters about the life outside of their screens and give themselves a shot at a fresh start.
This reviewer had a good time. It looks at an interesting crossroads between out-of-touch middle-aged guys with nothing to lose and ambitious youngsters with everything ahead of them. This dichotomy works here because Billy and Nick’s position is relatable. Sure, them landing this highly sought-after position completely defies credibility, and watching them flounder within the walls of the world’s biggest tech theme park will likely have many viewers cheering, but I found them endearing.
One of the strongest stretches of the film is a night outing where the pair suggest the team escape HQ and have a night on the town. For these tech gurus it is the first time they have ever been to a club. While this could have simply been a lazy means for this group to bond, it ultimately brings about inspiration for their present challenge and progresses the plot. If Billy and Nick prove anything is that they can adapt. A priceless ‘Quidditch’ game is another example.
Both of these men are likeable, and manage to avoid the ‘man child’ clichés that have come to define their acting careers. Vaughn’s deadpan wit is at its best delivering his punchy one-liners. When he begins to waffle on with balls out improv, his punch line often loses impact. This happens on several occasions. However, this is still one of his best roles in a while, and his involvement with developing the story and writing the screenplay (with Jared Stern) may have something to do with that. His natural chemistry with Wilson, reprising their Wedding Crashers partnership, is strong, and Nick is an honest, down-to-earth guy that embraces his opportunities while understanding his limitations. Watching him charmingly bumble his way through a date with Rose Byrne’s token love interest is amusing. The supporting youngsters, including Max Minghella (The Social Network), are individually entertaining too, though some fall victim to stereotypes.
What has been evident from the marketing, The Internship is basically a giant ad for Google. The series of challenges are a checklist of everything great about Google. Shot on the set of the HQ there is barely a frame that doesn’t have a logo in there. The film is so self-aware of its endorsements that it actually negates the distraction it could have caused.
The Internship is not a great film, but there are plenty of laughs. It is drawn-out, there are many metaphors used, and some expected lulls in the comedy. Anyone who has lost time for the two leads and wary of returning might be surprised. What I liked about this film was the clash of the warm personality and rigid digitalism. While many of us have our nose buried in our phones oblivious to the world around us, there is another generation who grew up differently. As strange as it may seem, they have something to offer this world if given the chance and The Internship has its heart in the right place embracing that.
Andrew Buckle - follow Andy on Twitter here: @buckle22
Andy Buckle is a passionate Sydney-based film enthusiast and reviewer who has built a respected online voice at his personal blog, The Film Emporium. Andy will contribute reviews, features and be our resident film festival, and awards expert.