If you were looking for a comedy internship, say, eight years ago, I would’ve recommended interning with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Today, if you were looking for a comedy internship, telling you to intern with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson would be like telling a computer tech prodigy to intern at Netscape.
In The Internship, Vaughn and Wilson play Billy and Nick, watch salesmen and lifelong friends. When their company shuts down because nobody uses watches anymore (they use their mobile phones to check the time), Billy and Nick suddenly realize they don’t have any real skills, other than for selling. Nick accepts a job working for his sister’s tatted-up boyfriend (Will Ferrell) in a mattress store, while Billy is supposedly recovering from being unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend after their house goes into foreclosure.
What to do? Billy, who has a computer and knows how to use it, searches online for career choices and stumbles upon an internship possibility at Google.
Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, the duo talk their way into the internship after a rather lame scene in which they participate in an interview in a library via Google video chat. I’m sure somebody will find that scene funny but it mostly falls flat.
Once at Google, Billy and Nick are accosted by a smarmy British intern who spends the rest of the movie antagonizing the 40-something pair for being dumb and old. Those two realities make Billy and Nick outcasts among outcasts. You can pretty much see what’s coming when all of the interns are divided into teams and are given various challenges to complete, with guaranteed jobs at Google awaiting the winning team.
Vaughn and Wilson should be the funniest players in the movie but to their credit, they really allow their supporting cast to shine. Tiya Sircar, Josh Brener, Dylan O’Brien and Tobit Raphael all have laugh-out-loud moments as Billy and Nick’s fellow misfit teammates. Josh Gad, though he isn’t in the movie for very long, dominates the few scenes in which he appears, while the terrific Aasif Mandvi from “The Daily Show” is entertaining as the internship coordinator.
The problem is, while generous with allowing the supporting cast to get their share of laughs, Vaughn and Wilson themselves aren’t particularly effective, and the story — co-written by Vaughn and Jared Stern — is tired and predictable, particularly Nick’s storyline with love interest Dana, played by Rose Byrne.
Set aside all the techie jargon and filming on location at the actual Google campus, and “The Internship” just feels stale. For guys who are supposed to be in their early 40s, the jokes are written as if Vaughn and Wilson are in their 70s. I believe that’s supposed to be part of the joke but it’s just not all that funny.
Two-and-a-half out of five stars.