A tedious set-up reveals antiquated salesmen Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) and Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) who are relics from the past in for a rude awakening. The outdated albeit charming pair are quickly embarrassed during a sales pitch, their outdated-ness typified by the horrible, mostly unfunny moment where the duo blare Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” on the car stereo as part of their "getting-pumped-to-sell” mix. It turns out that the mix and their fancy (and expensive) dinner were all for naught as the company they work for (run by their boss John Goodman) has already folded. Their careers deep-sixed by the digital age, Billy’s live-in girlfriend, tired of his failures, leaves him and Nick -- hard on himself for playing life safe and not evolving all this time -- takes a steady job at a mattress company at the behest of his sister.
Led by the uber-nervous/nerdy, insufferably buzzword-quoting team leader Lyle Spaulding (Josh Brener), the team will have to navigate both their skeptical Google intern manager Mr. Chetty (Aasif Mandvi) and the brilliant, tech-savvy students personified by the competitive, cut-throat British asshole Graham (Max Minghella). So what ensues is endless competition as the various intern teams are pitted against each other in challenges and games of wit, creativity, team-building, intelligence and problem-solving. And it’s almost baffling to realize that the movie is 2 hours long and yet somehow briskly feels like 90 minutes.
There are certainly myriad issues however, from the ceaseless, not particularly funny pop cultural references (“Star Wars,” “Big Bang Theory,” “Harry Potter,” “X-Men”), to the down-to-the-second predictable structure, to the excruciating use of pop music. (OK, the Spin Doctor’s “Two Princes” may not actually be used in this movie, but it might as well have been.) Written by Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern (who rewrote “The Watch” once Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were done with it), one shudders to think that these two actually sat down together (or separately) to physically type words into a computer. It's much more acceptable (and tolerable) to embrace the notion that they pitched an outline and then everyone just made up shit when they got to Google HQ. Either way, there is plenty enough of groan-inducing tripe that occurs in the movie that no one will want to highlight this on their CV.
That said, what’s remarkable about “The Internship” (though this is relative) is just how enjoyable and occasionally funny it can be despite a piss-poor screenplay that uses every cliche known to man. Where “The Internship” relatively succeeds and other similar mainstream comedies have failed is with the chemistry and dogged likable appeal of Wilson and especially Vaughn (both of whom literally work hard to win you over). The writer/star seems acutely aware how obnoxious and oafish his caricature is (the Vince Vaughn character he always plays), but credit to Vaughn for being so attuned to the character's strengths and limitations, that he can still wring out a decent joke out of a horrible scene. The fact that Vaughn does this time and time again is impressive. The film somehow manages to be somewhat pleasurable in spite of going through some painfully unfunny sketches, that resemble more a steaming pile of dog shit than comedic copper, let alone gold. Additionally, “The Internship” has a lot of sincere, earnest heart. Sure, a frequently banal, stereotypical heart, but Vaughn and Wilson are so committed to playing the uncool, out-of-touch troublemakers, they ironically emerge as the most likable and relatable characters in a sea of cocky, asshole whiz kids (Josh Gad also has a small role).
Make no mistake, “Google Crashers,” I mean, “The Internship” is kind of a terrible movie and perhaps it's sad to think it exists while some struggling would-be genius filmmaker can’t get his project made due to lack of resources, but all things are relative and taken on its own, “The Internship” might be the best worst comedy of the year thus far. [C]