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Review: 'The Internship' forgets who's boss

Published On: Jun 07 2013 08:55:03 AM CDT
Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson in The Internship

20th Century Fox

Stop me if you've heard this plot before. Two older losers change the lives of a bunch of younger losers by showing them that you can get anything out of life as long as you have that one precious gift — a belief in yourself.

Believe me, I wanted to like "The Internship." I couldn't wait for that perfect chemistry to mesh again —the quintessential bromance pairing of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson that was so infectious in the "Wedding Crashers."

But that was eight years ago, and sadly, Vaughn and Wilson can't seem to capture the same joie de vivre. "The Internship," despite its predictable script and shameless product placement, could have been saved if the pair was able to create that spark that lit up "Crashers." Give them an A for effort, however, because they sure do try.

"The Internship" was co-written by Vaughn and Jared Stern (who also had writing credit on "The Watch" that starred Vaughn), and perhaps that's where the disconnect happens. While the duo was on equal ground in "Crashers," there's an underlying feeling, despite the co-crediting, that Vaughn's character, Billy, is at the center of this film's universe. Although the real star of the movie is the search engine that holds the distinction of being a noun and a verb. Not sure what I mean? Google it.

In "The Internship," Billy and Nick are dinosaurs: salesmen who sell high-end watches, something they are told that no one wears anymore. Even their boss' senior citizen executive assistant checks her smartphone when she's asked what time it is.

After their jobs become obsolete, Billy, while Googling the search "jobs for people who have no skills" stumbles upon a holy grail, an internship at Google. If they can get the internship, it could lead to full-time employment at the Silicon Valley land of hopes and dreams. They just have to prove it to the right people at Google, and themselves.

Slick and smooth talking, albeit absolutely ridiculous, their video interview gets them in the front door. Soon they are officially Nooglers (new to the Google fold, usually a term for a new Google employee, but here it means intern). But when all the teams are picked, no one wants two old guys, and they are also left with the misfit kids who no one else has picked either.

To say Google is presented as the Happiest Place on Earth would be an understatement. This is a place where food is free, employees play volleyball in the middle of the day, take naps in egg-shaped pods, have an on-site dry cleaning service free for employees, and where the buzzword is Googliness, a phrase that describes the corporate culture at this unbelievably perfect utopia. The word is used so many times in "The Internship" it is well on its way to becoming the basis of a new drinking game: Drink every time someone mentions Google or Googliness in "The Internship." Oh, and make it a Miller Lite since that's another product placed blatantly in the film.

This is the high-lacquered gloss that clouds everything about "The Internship." It's hard to get past this almost two hours of shameless adoration, yet even if you could wipe it away, there's a predictable script that lacks a certain – well, Googliness.

Wilson and Vaughn play characters we've seen umpteen times before. The supporting cast offer some peeks of sunshine, but are constantly fighting against the Nickelodeon-esque script.

While Vaughn and company did have an introduction to Google, much of the film itself was shot at Georgia Tech, which was recreated to play dress up as the hallowed halls of Google. Director Shawn Levy divulges in press notes that much of the re-creation was "approved by Google."

As a campaign for the behemoth engine chugging the internet forward into cyberspace "The Internship" succeeds, but as a smart funny summer comedy, it doesn't make the grade.

This film is no Google Plus. In fact, it's Google minus.