Google Boggle

I fear The Internship will never get a doodle

by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

internship

The Internship
Opens Friday 7
2 out of 5

By far the most successful Internet search engine in history, Google has also reinvented corporate culture: thinking outside the box is encouraged, and constant reinvention is part of their mission statement.

Between that environment and the off-the-charts earnings of the company’s top brass, it’s no wonder the Google story has entered the realm of myth. Those looking for a negative angle usually point to the engine’s access to personal information — or the likelihood of Google Earth spying on us.

In a remarkable exercise of self-absorption, Google supported The Internship, an otherwise forgettable comedy that highlights the wonders of being involved with Google (Nap pods! Free food!), while downplaying the less savoury aspects of it.

The Internship works as a fairy tale. Billy and Nick (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson), two wristwatch salesmen with no real skills, become unemployed — because nobody with a cell phone needs a watch. Given the state of the American economy, they seem destined for minimum wage drudgery until one of them gets an interview with Google.

Because of the company’s fondness for the unconventional, Billy and Nick qualify as minorities — two jock types surrounded by a ton of computer nerds. In a warped rehash of high school, the coolest guys in the room become pariahs, to the point where they’re bullied by puny Max Minghella (The Social Network).

Billy and Nick are paired with other broken toys in a competition that lasts six weeks, at the end of which the winning team is hired by Google. The events include app design, customer service — and a quidditch match.

While it’s competently put together (as opposed to, say, The Hangover Part III), The Internship doesn’t contain a single original idea in its two-hour duration, running through one cliché after another (underdog story? Check. Fish out of water? Check. Geek jokes? Double check). The formulaic script benefits from Google’s coolness quotient — it’s a Wonka-like factory where employees are constantly stimulated — but once the novelty wears off, the movie goes downhill.

The Internship also relies heavily on the ability of Vaughn and Wilson to charm audiences, but both are very limited actors and their shtick hasn’t evolved one iota in decades, especially after both seemed to give up on drama —not that I’m complaining about that last part; remember Vaughn as Norman Bates in Psycho? Ugh. Wilson in particular gets the short end of the stick here, saddled with a painfully bad romantic subplot in which a career woman with a busy schedule is captivated by his slacker ways. The writing was so poor I flinched through most of their scenes together.

The shortcomings of one more barely passable comedy in an endless list are no big deal in the grand scheme of things, of course, but peddling the idea you can talk your way into a dream job is mildly disturbing. The founding premise of The Internship — that qualifications have limited impact but personality can win the day — is irresponsible at best. Expect the few people who enjoy this movie to apply to Google, and promptly collide with reality.

2013-05-30