This weekend, "The Internship" hits theaters nationwide, just in time to scare a new crop of college graduates into thinking that their lives are going to be really, really different if they don't find a top tier job right out of the gate. The film stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as a pair of out-of-work watch salesmen (wait, what?) who decide to bluff their way into an internship at the most prestigious place ever: Google. They soon learn that getting hired at Google isn't going to be a walk in the search engine park, and have to band together with a team of ragtag outsiders to complete a series of tasks.
Full disclosure: "The Internship" is easily one of the most excruciatingly painful moviegoing experiences this writer has had all year. Even though it's about a high-tech company, every joke feels like it's been sitting on a shelf for years, collecting dust and spider-webs. But some people are going to want to see it, and should you count yourself amongst them, here are 10 things you should know about "The Internship."
1. It's Not 'Wedding Crashers 2'
Famously, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson starred in "Wedding Crashers," a bawdy studio comedy that was a box office smash. (It could be argued that without the success of "Wedding Crashers," "The Hangover" would never have been made.) That movie, although trading on a number of hoary comic clichés, seemed somewhat fresh and the banter between the two actors was both hilarious and entertaining. Sadly, the same cannot be said about "The Internship." The chemistry between the two leads hasn't remained, and while they can still BS with the best of them, their relationship now feels brittle and superficial. Their banter also feels forced and, thanks to the restrictive PG-13 rating, oddly contained.
2. There's a Secret First-Act Cameo That Is Easily the Best Part of the Movie
Just spoiling this one appearance would probably be enough to get some people to the theater (don't worry, we won't spoil it). That said, there's someone who makes an appearance in the first act of the film as a misanthropic mattress salesman that literally left the audience howling. When he left, the movie returned to the humorless black hole that it was before (and after) his brief stint. The only thing that comes close in the "briefly joyful cameo" department is a small part towards the end of the film. It doesn't quite match up to the first cameo, but it's still a fleck of gold in a large mound of what appears to be old coffee grinds, expired cartons of milk, and really bad jokes.
3. According to the film, Google Is a Really Fun Place To Work
In "The Internship," Google is depicted as the most fun place to work in history. Here, the company is squeaky clean and super wonderful -- the kind of place that builds bridges and brings people and businesses together in a cheery, apple-cheeked utopia of futuristic harmony, therefore ignoring the accusations of political censorship and invasion of personal privacy . So, you can keep your civil liberties -- this place has a neat indoor slide! Wee!
4. It's Not 'The Social Network'
Sometimes, during "The Internship," I would squint my eyes and, thanks to its Silicon Valley setting and the inclusion of Max Minghella in the cast, would pretend I was watching David Fincher's undisputed masterpiece "The Social Network." Sadly, I would get tired and snap back to reality when Vince Vaughn would make some kind of labyrinthine "Flashdance" reference. Story-wise, "The Social Network" and "The Internship" aren't all that dissimilar; they're both about kids who are trying to deal (both personally and professionally) with the difficult tangle of cutting-edge technology. But whereas "The Social Network" was thematically nuanced, full of richly imagined characters and emotional resonance, well, "The Internship" has "Flashdance" references.
5. Rose Byrne Is Completely Wasted
The female characters in "The Internship" are uniformly relegated to second fiddle status. This is a movie that has the fiercely talented and funny Jessica Szohr (from "Gossip Girl" and "Piranha 3D") in the cast. Unfortunately, her "big scene" involves a strip tease and some offhanded giggling (seriously). However, the most criminal offense of sexism and general mismanagement of talent is Rose Byrne, who has the ability to shine in even the most thankless role, but is instead used here as an afterthought. Everyone saw how funny she was in "Bridesmaids" and "Get Him to the Greek." She does not get to be funny in this film.
6. The Sentimentality Is Ladled On Pretty Thick
In "The Internship," characters learn and grow. The reason you know this is because the characters are learning and growing in almost every scene. Some characters learn the value of teamwork, while others grow as individuals into men who can stand up to their demanding parents or handle the high stress rigors of a technology centered job. At some point these personal revelations start to feel like a really long "extra special" episode of your favorite sitcom. Instead of laughs, it only elicits yawns.
7. Movies About Computers Are Still Really Boring
Not a lot has changed since 1995. That's when Sandra Bullock starred in a thriller called "The Net" about computer hacking. It was terribly dull. Since then, computers (and the Internet) have been used by countless movies as a pivotal plot point and almost all of them have been similarly boring. "The Social Network" dodged that particular bullet because so little time was spent on the actual tech -- it was all about the behind-the-scenes nerds and the very identifiable emotions each of them felt. "The Internship" is supposedly about people but there's an awful lot of time spent clicking away on keyboards or talking about the intricacy of coding algorithms. There's nothing particularly cinematic about computers (ironic given how much they aid in the making of movies these days) and talking about computers is even worse. It means nothing to most people. It's word salad. They might as well be talking in Shakespearean verse.
8. It's Not "The Watch"
The last time Vince Vaughn teamed up with director Shawn Levy, it was for last summer's dismal "The Watch." But even that movie, which underwent a last-minute name change and suffered a dog's death at the box office, has some bright spots and actual teeth. It might have been tonally inconsistent and singularly idiotic, but there was at least one great performance (by Billy Crudup) and a hard R-rating to cushion the fall.
9. The Movie Is Too Long By at Least a Half Hour
Woody Allen and John Waters have the right idea by (mostly) keeping their comedies to a lean 90 minutes. Any longer and you run the risk of overstaying your welcome (something that Judd Apatow and his acolytes have yet to fully understand). At 119 minutes, "The Internship" became unnecessarily exhausting. Is there any reason for a "night on the town" montage to feel like it's been going on for a half hour? No. That said, you should probably stay for the end credits, which is probably the most clever and visually interesting couple of minutes of the whole movie. It still feels like a Google ad, but a less overtly sinister one.
10. At Some Point It Becomes Hard Not to Think About What Else Could Have Been Done With the $60 Million It Cost to Make "The Internship"
Seriously. $60 million.