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'The Internship' movie review

Posted: December 4, 2013 - 5:12pm

“The Internship”

1 hour, 59 minutes

Under normal circumstances, right now you would be reading a review of the latest in Disney’s serious attempt at rejuvenating its reputation as the top producer of quality animation after Pixar knocked the Mouse House off its pedestal almost twenty years ago. Of course, Disney got even by buying Pixar, but recently they’ve been turning out modern classics of their own, of which, this week’s “Frozen” looks to be another of. The problem is that my son’s sixth birthday party is this weekend, and, come Sunday afternoon, guess where I’ll be, surrounded by a passel of kindergartners. That left this week open, but the only new film was a tired-looking Vince Vaughn comedy about a sperm donor. While it’s not a hard and fast rule or anything, I seriously try to avoid sperm donor movies, so I figured the next best thing was to review the last tired-looking Vince Vaughn movie, “The Internship,” about two guys in their early forties who try to take on a competitive internship at Google. The upside is that, instead of co-starring a bodily fluid, the movie features Owen Wilson, who I usually enjoy. The downside? The movie is terrible.

Billy and Nick (Vaughn and Wilson, respectively) are watch salesmen. The movie tells us they are exceptional salesmen, but they seemed pretty obnoxious to me. In the opening scene, the two perform a version of the kind of dialogue these two always seem to perform, either with each other or with Ben Stiller, Jon Favreau, or Will Ferrell. It’s a rapid fire, overly emotional and somewhat comically bombastic banter that Wilson and Vaughn excel at, but only works when the script is a good one. Here it almost feels rote, which made the idea that these two are such great salesmen all the less likely. Regardless, the point of the scene, where the two are attempting to sell an expensive line of luxury watches to the owner of a department store, is that our heroes are hopelessly out of touch and suddenly out of work after their company shuts down. After noodling around for a while, Billy lands he and Nick an interview to join a rigorous internship program at the tech giant Google - an internship that has a five percent chance of ending in a full-time job with the company. Naturally, this must and will happen, despite the fact that our protagonists have absolutely no discernible computer skills. What follows is a version of a movie you’ve seen a million times, whether it be about a summer camp, boot camp, or rival fraternities. Billy, Nick, and a few other, far younger, misfits must use their heart and determination and learn to act as a team to overcome both the odds and the privileged team of jerks who perpetually seem poised to sweep the competition. “Stripes,” “Meatballs,” “Private Benjamin,” “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Animal House,” “Old School.” I could go on, but why digress? If our heroes can stick together, they can win it all and land the big jobs they’re looking for. Also, at least two of the team members stand a good chance of losing their virginity, which seems cribbed from either “Porky’s” or “Superbad,” but “The Internship” is certainly not shy about strip-mining other, better comedies to fill out its obnoxiously long two-hour and five minute run time.

Where to begin? Yes the script is bad, and yes many of the jokes don’t even come close to landing. Yes, the story lacks even an iota of creativity. And yes, the whole thing feels like an advertisement for Google, ironically the one company that doesn’t really need to advertise its services. Each of these is a major factor in making this movie as lousy as it is, but the most egregious problem is that I just never bought it. Not even for a minute. Vince Vaughn, who co-wrote this thing, so he should have known better, and Owen Wilson are completely miscast. As written, the movie would make far more sense as an Alan Arkin / Christopher Walken buddy comedy. Think, “Grouchy Old Programmers.” Wilson and Vaughn are just too young.

I didn’t believe for a second that they didn’t get a “Star Wars” reference, that they seemed to have no idea what “Harry Potter” or “The X-Men” was, and the idea that people checked the time on their phones was a completely foreign one. Even a third grader would know that “coding” was a reference to writing computer code, and “bug,” to a glitch in that code, but we are asked to believe that Billy and Nick are dim enough to believe it refers to an actual insect. It’s not that there aren’t a few amusing scenes in the film, but I was mostly just insulted. Grade: D

“The Internship” was rated PG-13 originally, for language, mostly. I, however, watched the “Unrated” version because it was the only version offered where I rented. The movie is unrated for “outrageous additional scenes you couldn’t see in theaters!”

These seemed to include an outrageous amount of forced and fairly dull profanity as well as an outrageously long scene in a topless strip club. I use the word outrageous in this context literally. It was a travesty how long that scene went on. Nearly twenty minutes are spent in that club. I’m not sure I could spend twenty minutes in a real strip club, and yet this movie keeps us there for a full 1/6th of the run-time.

I was also disturbed to find out, though I guess I knew this went on, that the director shot multiple versions of the exact same scenes, some with the F-Word, some without, some with boobs, some without, for the specific purpose of releasing a racier cut on DVD. As I’m certainly not going to seek out this film again, I guess I’ll never know whether the PG-13 version is better or worse. It’s hard to see how it could be much worse, though.

Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.

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