This week, Identity Thief arrives on home video. What does that have to do with the teaming of Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in the Google-rific The Internship?
Identity Thief features Hollywood faves Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy doing exactly what Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy do in the vast majority of their films. We know this. We love this. We go out to see this every time they do it.
The Internship has Vince Vaughn doing exactly what Vince Vaughn has done in nearly every single one of his films and certainly all of his films that have been successful. While Owen Wilson has occasionally stretched himself a bit as an actor, The Internship has him returning to his old and familiar roots and doing what America loves him doing.
While that approach still works for both Bateman and McCarthy, it's become far more tiresome for Vaughn and Wilson. It remains to be seen if America will show up in droves for The Internship, but it's hard to fathom that too many people will fall in love with the film on the level that they did Wedding Crashers. The Internship isn't a bad film. In fact, it's a genuinely entertaining film despite running a good 20-30 minutes too long. As familiar as is the Wilson/Vaugn shtick, it's a shtick that America enjoys and there sure are worse ways than to spend $10 and a couple hours than laughing and hanging out with two actors doing what they do best.
The story itself is simple. Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are best buddies who have worked together for most of their adult lives as top notch watch salesmen until technology takes over and they find themselves unemployed, in their 40's and needing to start over. For reasons not fully explained, the two find themselves accepted as interns at the Mountain View, California-based Google with the possibility of landing a job at the perks-laden employer if they can manage to survive an almost Hunger Games like competition against a large group of interns most of whom are half their age and college educated.
You do know where this is going, right?
Since the two are by far the eldest of the interns, they are mostly dismissed by their peers and end up teamed up with what amounts to the oddball leftovers including the sexually curious Neha (Tiya Sircar), a brilliant Asian with no social skills (Tobit Raphael), the smartphone obsessed Stuart (Dylan O'Brien) and an incredibly interesting team leader (Josh Brener). Nick and Billy inevitably show their age by being a wealthy of 80's pop culture references and a bit out of touch, while the entire group will inevitably bond over everything from competition experiences to a jaunt over to a local strip joint. There will also be the inevitable love interest for Nick in the person of Dana (Rose Byrne), a no nonsense Google exec.
In a bit of a rarity for the normally reclusive company, Google opened its doors fairly wide for The Internship. While that may sound like the film is destined to be two hours of product placement for the company, one must say that co-writers Vaughn and Jared Stern don't exactly paint a completely flattering picture and at times downright make fun of the Google way of doing things. That said, the saturation of the big screen with the Google logo is a bit obnoxious at times and it's certainly going to be interesting to see how America responds to such overt product placement whether intentional or not.
In the end, it seems like The Internship is about the different generations and how we all pretty much bring something valuable to the table. While this may be a message that resonates, appropriately or not it seems like a message that could very well be lost on the real Google or a good majority of the upstart tech companies. Vaughn and Wilson do a decent enough job of authentically playing the tensions that arise when they realize they truly are getting older and are being more and more treated as irrelevant. Of course, their comic timing remains as strong as ever even if the material itself does feel familiar and more than a bit stale in spots.
The supporting players are fine enough, especially a terrific Max Minghella playing yet another baddie, but when it comes down to it this is an Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn film and if you're headed to it to see the tandem that you'll likely be satisfied enough even if the film lacks the spark and spontaneity of Wedding Crashers.
The film is directed by Shawn Levy, a director who can be wildly hit-and-miss. With The Internship, he manages to be both hit and miss over the course of the film's nearly two hour running time. While the film never completely gels, it also never completely disappoints. Laughs are to be had. Warm and fuzzy moments are to be gushed over. Jaws are to be dropped as one looks inside the real Google headquarters. For most of America, pretty good will most likely be good enough.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic