From the very first moments of “The Internship,” the buddy comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, it’s obvious exactly where it’s going. Two washed-up salesmen on the wrong side of 40 vie with a bunch of mouthy millennials for a job at Google. If you can’t guess that the geezers will teach the youngsters something about real life while the kids school them about Google Chrome, well, you’ve never seen a movie before.
But, as the saying goes, it’s the getting there that’s half the fun. “The Internship” doesn’t break any new comedic ground and it will evaporate from memory upon leaving the darkened theater. But it’s an amiable, occasionally laugh-out-loud fish-out-of-water tale that gently mocks our modern technological age while simultaneously embracing it (and giving a big sloppy kiss to Google).
Best buds Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) find themselves out on the street when the watch company they work for goes belly up. After fooling around on the Internet, Billy finagles a way to get them into a Google internship program. A lucky few will be offered a full-time job at the end of it.
But there are two problems: Neither Billy or Nick knows anything about technology, and they’re twice the age of all the other interns.
Their very presence and incompetence enrages a snotty Brit intern (Max Minghella). A boo-hiss villain if there ever was one (he does everything but twirl a moustache), he takes it upon himself to kick them out of the running.
Meanwhile, Billy and Nick team up with other intern outcasts – who may know a lot about computers but little about social interaction – to try to outwit their competitors and the no-nonsense manager who oversees the program, Mr. Chetty (Aasif Mandviv). “The Internship” is “The Bad News Bears” with smartphones.
As directed by Shawn Levy (“Night at the Museum”) and written by Vaughn and Jared Stern, “The Internship” offers a broad canvas for its two stars — last together in “The Wedding Crashers” in 2005. They riff off each other with abandon. One of the movie’s early highlights is their hilarious video-conference interview with a couple of earnest Google geeks (one of whom is played by B.J. Novak from “The Office”).
Once on the corporate campus, Nick flirts with an exec (Rose Byrne) who, at first, is cool to his boorish charms. While the romantic element feels a bit tacked on and isn’t as funny as the main narrative, it’s nevertheless a showcase for the shaggy-haired Wilson persona.
The movie also plays up all the clichés of the Google workplace – free food, sleep pods and co-workers who all look like they’re in indie bands. Yet it’s never critical of Google, nor does it even mention controversies over privacy. (Be sure to stay for the end credits, and a clever take-off on Google-isms.)
But no one goes to a Vaughn/Wilson comedy for a lecture. They go to see a couple of guys who are on their comedic game, and that’s just what the two deliver here.
Two and a half stars (Out of four)
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella
Director: Shawn Levy
Running time: 119 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality, crude humor, partying and profanity.
The Lowdown: Two salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital age find their way into a coveted internship at Google, where they must compete with a group of young, tech-savvy geniuses.