Movie Review: “The Internship”

Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, Aasif Mandvi
Shawn Levy

It’s been nearly a decade since Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson first teamed up for the R-rated comedy “Wedding Crashers,” and moviegoers have been clamoring for the pair to do another film together ever since. The reunion may have taken a little longer than expected, but it’s nice to see that they didn’t go the easy route with a “Wedding Crashers” sequel, even if their new movie falls well short of recapturing that same spark. “The Internship” isn’t nearly as bad as its trailers led me to believe, but while Vaughn and Wilson don’t waste any time in renewing their great onscreen chemistry, it’s still not very funny.

Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson) have built successful careers as salesmen, but when their company closes due to the economic crunch, they suddenly find themselves without a job and no real marketable skills to speak of. Analog dinosaurs living in a digital world, their futures look bleak – that is, until Billy gets the idea to apply for a summer internship program at Google. Though they clearly lack the general computer knowledge of most candidates, the company decides to take a chance on the two guys anyway. Placed into a group of fellow outcasts with poor social skills, Billy and Nick are quickly discounted as a couple of inept goofballs that are more trouble than they’re worth. But what they lack in technological savvy, they make up for in life experience, and that proves just as valuable when they compete in a series of team challenges for the chance to earn a job at the tech giant.

You can probably guess where the story goes from here, but thankfully, Vaughn and Wilson take an incredibly formulaic and improbable setup and make it somewhat enjoyable. It may not be as funny as “Wedding Crashers” (in fact, it’s more sweet than humorous), but the two actors form such a great comedic team that their combined charisma helps paper over some of the cracks in the script. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast doesn’t have the same luck. Rose Byrne is wasted as a Google employee who falls for Wilson’s character (doing his usual nice guy shtick), while Max Minghella’s campus bully never amounts to more than your typical ’80s movie villain. And in that regard, “The Internship” is essentially a modern day version of “Revenge of the Nerds,” only instead of the Greek Games, these teams face off in computer programming challenges… and games of Quidditch. Why? Because sports that involve a bunch of dorks running around with brooms between their legs is funny.

Surprisingly, it’s not silly details like this that many critics have attacked, but rather the Google lovefest that takes place over the course of the film. Although it does start to feel like a glorified recruitment video at times, Google tops the list of the best places to work every year for a reason, so how could director Shawn Levy possibly ignore what makes the company so unique and fun? It’s certainly a nice break from having to sit through another one of Michael Bay’s pro-military commercials. Granted, that still doesn’t make “The Internship” a good movie. Most of the jokes are about five years past their sell-by date and the stereotypical preconceptions about older people and computers is laughable, but Vaughn and Wilson are so damn charming that it’s easy to forgive some of the more frustrating aspects of the movie, especially when there’s no telling how long it’ll take before they reunite on screen again.