This might be the most lazily constructed movie featuring "name" actors you'll see all year, re-using an "underdogs competing for a spot" template that was old when they were still inventing new metaphors for how old something was. The Internship has grounded its character's interplay in a layman's conception of the tech industry that is so archaic and backward looking, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the screenplay was written around 1998 and they simply swapped out "AOL" with "Google." Every scene that isn't built on lazy slapstick or maudlin "Aww, gettin' old is tough!" sentiment is built on the following dichotomy: "Tech geeks," according to the film's pre-millenial understanding of its world, are socially stifled introverts who can code in their sleep, while our heroes have nothing but super-charged social skills even if they think C++ is a vitamin supplement. Ho ho! The irony!
It's genuinely strange to imagine that someone thought - in a time of economic turmoil and massive unemployment - audiences were going to be swept up in the alleged plight of two guys who simply weren't sharp enough to see their own gravy train approaching a wall, and now face the horrifying prospect of slightly-less-glamorous lifestyles (Oh no! Owen Wilson might have to do a boring job! Egads! Foreclosure!? Vince Vaughn might have to get an apartment!). At one point, the younger team members attempt to interject some of this unwanted reality ("The American Dream" is broken, Generation Y has staggeringly low career prospects, etc.) when Vaughn tries to give them the "whole lives ahead of you" speech... which Our Heroes rebut by taking everyone to a raucous strip club which of course brings everyone out of their shells and turns them into buddies for life.
The most bizarre thing about the film itself, though, is its Google-centric setting. On the one hand, I tend to like it when real brands get used in movies instead of unlicensed sound-alike stand-ins for the sake of immersion, but The Internship treats Google with reverence usually only shown to companies operated by Willy Wonka. One would think a comedy would try to mine laughs from the absurdities that The Public assumes goes on behind the doors of internet cash factories, but here's a film that buys into the Google mythology completely and utterly. Google's "sunshine and rainbows" projected image is present as wholly true - this isn't just the best place in the world to work, but it's memetic eccentricities are all super sound ideas that Vaughn and Wilson have to learn to appreciate and its lofty sounding info-democratizing ideology really is the philosophy that can save the world. Joining Team Google is a journey to The Emerald City where there is no Man Behind The Curtain - The Wizard is real.
But even beyond the uninspired premise and the borderline offensive corporate cheerleading (to call this an infomercial for Google would besmirch the good name of infomercials); The Internship simply isn't funny. Joke after joke lands with a thud, and the "sitcom misunderstanding" setups were physically painful to endure watching unfold. At one point, Our Heroes are pranked by being sent on a snipe hunt to seek help from "a bald professor in a wheelchair named Charles Xavier;" a premise that assume A.) The audience still considers the billion-dollar X-Men franchise to be a geeks-only reference, B.) that Our Heroes haven't been to a movie theater or watched television since 1999 or so, and C.) that it will be amusing to watch Vince Vaughn verbally harass a random old man in a wheelchair.
When the credits finally rolled on this thing, my very first words to my fellow critics were ,"That was so bad, I think I'll switch to Bing." My last words to you on the matter? Just don't go.
Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.