Roeper: Vaughn and Wilson got game in ‘The Internship’
When it’s time for Vince Vaughn’s 40-something guy in “The Internship” to give a pep talk to fellow interns half his age, his go-to movie is “Flashdance.”
That Pittsburgh welder with a dream gave it her all! Who knows where that water came from when she pulled the lever? But she pulled that lever!
It’s a ridiculously corny speech in a shamelessly corny movie that also serves as the single longest product placement in motion-picture history. And, of course, we’ve seen Vaughn play this type of fast-talking gift-of-gabber in a dozen other movies.
And yet there’s something irresistible about this movie. Just as the salesmen played by Vaughn and his “Wedding Crashers” buddy Owen Wilson are determined to win folks through sheer persistence, “The Internship” is the movie version of a goofy dog that knows only a few tricks but keeps on looking at you and wagging his tail, daring you not to like him.
Down, boy. You win.
In “The Internship,” Vaughn is Billy and Wilson is Nick, 40-ish salesmen and lifelong friends who are on a sales call when they learn their company has been shuttered. Billy has no luck finding work and Nick has a disastrous stint working for his oafish brother-in-law, who sports an insanely stupid neck tattoo.
Billy’s brainstorm: they’ll get internships at Google!
The bulk of the movie is set on the idyllic Google campus, where young geniuses in casual clothes set the agenda for the world while enjoying perks that include an unlimited supply of free food and drinks; colorful bicycles available for anyone to borrow; nap pods when you need to recharge, and an amusement park slide right in the middle of the main building. We’re constantly reminded that Googlers are making life just a little bit better and a little bit easier for, you know, THE ENTIRE WORLD.
The summer interns are told 95 percent of them will never get a job offer from Google. Only the team that wins the majority of competitions over the summer will be asked to join the inner circle.
Really? That’s how they do it?
There appear to be at least 200 students on Orientation Day, but we see only two teams in action: the squad headed by Billy and Nick, and the team of superachievers led by a snooty jerk (Max Minghella).
And so it begins. Nick starts courting a beautiful, seemingly fun-free, work-obsessed Google staffer played by Rose Byrne. Billy fumbles with the tech stuff (he keeps talking about going “on the line”), but he’s a terrific role model and father figure for the ragtag bunch of outcasts assigned to his team. A nerd who’s so nerdy, he’s even considered a nerd at Google, he has a thing for a beautiful dancer, and guess where that goes. The bad guy insults Nick and Billy at every turn while mistreating his own team.
And oh, yeah, there’s a game of Quidditch. It’s not quite as exhilarating as that other movie that introduced us to Quidditch. But it’s funnier.
Though trafficking in less raunchy territory than “The Wedding Crashers,” Vaughn and Wilson once again have a comfortable, easy rapport. On their own in any number of movies in which they’ve just played variations on a theme, Vaughn’s monologue-inclined, borderline boorish persona and Wilson’s shaggy-haired, aw-shucks charmer can wear thin.
Here, they actually bring out the best in each other. We don’t see the ironic quote marks around their line readings. We like them.
Though “Flashdance” serves as Billy’s touchstone, “The Internship” also reminds me of other 1980s movies, from “Stripes” (the scene where Billy’s girlfriend leaves him) to “Real Genius” (legendary character lurking on the fringes) to, of course, “Revenge of the Nerds.” It’s not as good as any of those movies, but it’s not too far behind.
Maybe I’m engaging in some reverse stereotyping here, but I imagine some of the hipsters who work for Google will be rolling their eyes at this PG-13, safe, predictable and sentimental comedy about a lovable team of underdogs who learn (Movie Trailer Voice-Over Guy clears his throat): “If you Google ‘winners’ and ‘teamwork,’ you’re going to get 2.98 million results in 0.22 seconds.”
You won’t be surprised by a single moment in this movie. by 15 minutes in, you’ll know exactly where it’s going. The story’s so sunny even the villain seems like a halfhearted caricature who’s more twit than threat.
I got all that — but the script is funny and cheerfully offbeat (when was the last time you heard a joke about Marfan syndrome?), and the cast is uniformly likable. I found myself rooting for the underdogs even as I was aware of the strings being pulled.
As for the shameless Google promotion, it’s actually a positive. I don’t think the movie works at all if Billy and Nick get internships at some generic, Google-esque company. Frothy as it all is, it seems rooted in our actual, Google-dominated world.
Besides, I’d rather see an entire movie in which a real company is referenced than endure yet another scene where a character walks into a bar and says, “Give me a beer.”
You can’t say, “Give me a beer,” in a bar! The bartender’s not going to pour you a beer, he’s going to say, “Can you be a little more specific?” And don’t even get me started on telephone numbers that start with “555.” ...