Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne
Directed by: Shawn Levy (“Date Night”)
Written by: Vince Vaughn (“Couples Retreat”) and Jared Stern (“The Watch”)
When the modestly budgeted comedy “Wedding Crashers” came out in 2005, few people (not to mention the studio) anticipated its mammoth success. Not only was it the highest grossing comedy of the summer, but it, along with “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” spawned a resurgence in the edgy R-rated comedy genre, a trend that still hits box office gold today. Arguably the biggest reason for “Wedding Crashers’” success was the pairing of actors Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Eight years later, Wilson and Vaughn join forces again in “The Internship.”
After their company goes bankrupt, middle-aged watch salesmen Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are forced to throw themselves back into the job market. Desperate for something new, Billy and Nick apply for an internship program at Google. When they arrive, they find themselves to be the oldest interns (by decades) and are teamed up with a group of youngsters and an enthusiastic Google employee. As they go through a series of challenges to try land a job, Billy and Nick realize they’re in over their heads in a program full of tech-savvy people.
Predictably, Wilson and Vaughn fall into character structures similar to the ones they had in “Wedding Crashers.” Wilson plays the part of the charming go-getter while Vaughn is his neurotic and persuasive counterpart. Unfortunately, these characters are far more flimsy than the ones in “Crashers.” Wilson probably fares the better of the two, as his relationships with his fellow interns and Rose Byrne work decently. Conversely, Vaughn’s fast-talking, stumbling-over-his-own-words shtick is tiring and becomes grating very quick. The rest of the cast is rounded out by secondary characters and a few cameos, none of which are particularly noteworthy.
For a film that boasts bankable comedic talent, “The Internship” really struggles to find consistent laughs. Most of the jokes fall flat, including a bizarre recurring 30-year-old reference to the movie “Flashdance,” which is never funny despite the three or four times they go back to it. In place of a clever screenplay, the film relies too heavily on Vaughn and Wilson for laughs. Another bothersome wrinkle in the film is its obvious product placement for Google. Everything is green, yellow, blue and red, and virtually every service that Google provides is name-dropped at some point during the film. It wouldn’t be so bad if each scene didn’t contain some sort of corporate shilling.
At its core, “The Internship” is an underdog story about people who are being phased out by a new generation. From a sheer storytelling perspective, director Shawn Levy follows the formula close enough to sustain the films watchability, especially through the back half of the movie. The problem, however, lies in the unfunny script, average characters, and overextended run time. It’ll take something a little more substantial and effortful for Vaughn and Wilson to regain their once held spot as kings of the summer comedy.