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Duo attempts to grow up, falls short

'The Internship' script lacks development

POSTED: June 6, 2013 1:00 a.m.

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are back in theaters trying to grow up again, and the result is about as good as the previous 10 times they’ve attempted it.

Vaughn and Wilson play salesmen Billy and Nick, who lose their jobs and try to reinvent themselves via an internship program with Google. They and three other interns are assigned to a team led by a junior Google employee. The teams compete at various challenges, and the members of the team with the most points at the end of the summer will get permanent jobs at Google.

All of the characters fit a broad stereotype: trying to be cool by citing pop references Lile (Josh Brener); detached loner Stuart (Dylan O’Brien); latent sex kitten Neha (Tiya Sircar); and achievement-obsessed Asian Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael).

Billy and Nick bring no skills or knowledge to the team but become the team’s spiritual leaders. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

“The Internship” is, for the most part, a lame, disposable comedy that inspires almost no feelings, good or bad.

But in ways, this is a highly offensive movie.

The story is founded on two of the defining economic and social phenomena of our time. Plenty of real Americans have found themselves out of work in recent years because the industry they’ve relied on is now obsolete.

The movie also mentions the bleak prospects now faced by people under age 25. In perhaps the film’s most poignant scene, Nick and Billy tell their teammates they’re too young to be so stressed about financial worries.

The kids respond by telling them how difficult it is to find a job even with a college degree. Stuart says a quarter of college graduates are unemployed. Even if that statistic isn’t exactly accurate, it speaks to the very real concerns weighing on young adults.

“The Internship” raises these issues, which is great. But like every other Hollywood movie that has attempted to say something about recession or post-recession life, it treats working-class hardships with glib misunderstanding.

America is undergoing a fundamental shift in the kinds of careers available to those with limited education, the quality of life possible regardless of education, and the disappearance of long-term financial stability.

How does “The Internship” respond to the issues they raise?

With one lame pep talk after another, most of them from the increasingly hard to tolerate Vaughn. The whole motormouth thing has grown so thin at this point, and in this context it’s condescending.

The real problem doesn’t lie with the filmmakers’ class politics, though. The movie’s vapid treatment of its own themes is just a symptom of the script’s lack of development.

This movie is so starved for ideas that we are treated to a very long Quidditch match (yes, really) and an even longer scene in a strip club.

The other offensive thing here is “The Internship” plays like a two-hour corporate video for Google. Much of the movie was shot in and around the Google campus. Their logo is visible in almost every scene of the second and third acts, we see and hear the names of all their products multiple times, and the company is portrayed as the best place to work in America — and we know it has been labeled as such because the movie tells us.

Product placement is a fact of Hollywood filmmaking, but this is an egregious sales pitch for a company that does not need help raising its profile.

Ironically, though, the movie also stereotypes anyone who works in the technology industry as a backward geek. The characterizations aren’t even as round as the characters on “The Big Bang Theory,” which, by the way, is much funnier than this movie.

“The Internship” is a frustrating viewing experience. It occasionally hits a sweet note, but then immediately becomes painfully unfunny again. It’s a massive waste of talent and the time of anyone who goes to see it.

Jeff Marker is head of the Communication, Media & Journalism Department at the University of North Georgia. His reviews appear weekly in Get Out and on gainesvilletimes.com/getout.


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