Like its stars stumbling late to maturity, The Internship failed to screen before press deadlines. We probably should have sent an intern, but Jay Horton went instead.
Critic's Grade: B
Whether or not Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson ever seem believable as salesmen, their sheer presence on the big screen effortlessly sells the dopiest of movies. There's a crumbling landmark quality to Vaughn's unlikely angles and bristling energy—like an Ansel Adams landscape crossed with a lump of undercooked hamburger after the power's been turned on high—demanding immediate and unconsidered reassurance, and that's a role Wilson's Butterscotch Stallion was born to play. As The Internship
's opening sequence luxuriates in their post-verbal pas de deux, we care not at all about the implausibility of luxury watch reps schmoozing a regular customer over steaks and single malts only to learn their own company's gone bankrupt. That's but the first of countless script placeholders never to be fleshed out along this clumsily assembled narrative. Still, if co-writer Vaughn punted basic story construction to spend exponentially more time upon the mellifluous wordplay of our heroes' unending spiel (aggro-Americana free verse of effervescent positivity riffing huckster laureates from Bugs Bunny to Tony Robbins), it's hard to argue his instincts. With leads so charming and dialogue so crisp and all involved so happily engaged in creating an eminently forgettable vehicle, any insistence upon critical standards seems utterly churlish when applied to comic actors revelling in a heavensent chemistry that would brighten even the dreariest corporate training film...though they really didn't have to prove that point.
This isn't Vaughn and Wilson's first feature together, of course, but, though ads hawk the picture as vague thematic sequel (System Crashers?), this limp hackjob has none of its predecessor's biting wit or respect for storytelling. Whatever your feelings about Wedding Crashers' overgrown boys desperate struggle against maturation—which likely depends upon whether or not you believe anything of value would be surrendered in the process—the film divided opinions precisely because it was about something, however fundamentally silly. So far as The Internship acknowledges meaningful issues, poking around at difficult questions regarding the fate of older workers in the new economy, any commercial will show all socially relevant moments in their entirety. After our heroes' return to their former (dingy, cramped) office and hear their former (selfish, loud, poorly-dressed) boss eulogize their former (laughably obsolete, criminally wasteful) industry, there's but a few brief scenes with Vaughn's shrewish paramour and the de rigueur Will Ferrell cameo as Wilson's brother-in-law before family and friends are blissfully abandoned forever on the road to Silicon Valley.
The film makes no apologies for an unflinching boosterdom of all that Google represents. Surprisingly, this less-than-anarchic perspective doesn't in any way diminish the constantly inventive, profoundly entertaining performances from our stars, and their nuanced, perfectly-pitched responses to the succession of awful lines badly delivered by two-dimensional characters renders the abysmal supporting cast merely a logical extension of the brightly-colored, whimsically-adorned Google HQ/theme park. By so neatly treading the line around the film's effective glorification of Google's mission while the characters' sardonic practicality cuts against the devotional corporate culture with every facial tic and vocal hesitancy, the film feels oddly reminiscent of Stripes. Another plotless star turn forging easy laughs from the sudden entrance of the old and apathetic into the land of true believers (and gearing motivation solely around momentary competitiveness or affection for the underdog), the deadpan stoner nihilism of early '80s Bill Murray enables satirical interpretations of jingoistic dreck just as Vaughn's fast-twitch rage mask and Wilson's predator shtick distort their movie's explicit message. However gleaming the Googleplex within The Internship's triumphant final shot, the film succeeds only so far as its heroes undermine the meaning of success.