Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in The Pursuit of Googliness
Let’s a take a quick stroll to the aughts. Vince Vaughn’s career was firing hot having starred in comedies like Old School, Dodgeball, and Wedding Crashers. Then he got complacent as the years went by doing comedies like Couples Retreat, The Dilemma and most recently The Watch (a poor excuse for a so-called “restricted comedy”). The only anomaly would be a supporting role in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild.
Hitting highs early on, notice how his project decisions quickly waned in the later years. Looking to rekindle some of the box office magic that befell him with Wedding Crashers, which still remains one of the biggest hit comedies of all time, Vaughn reunites with Owen Wilson to take on a new challenge in The Internship: gainful employment.
In a plot scenario that seems more in line with a TV sitcom, Vaughn and Wilson, both newly unemployed, look to the future with trying to get a job at Google by going through a highly competitive internship process. If the situation sounds remarkably like the Will Smith-starring vehicle The Pursuit of Happyness, well I also had the same feeling. Knowing that you could say that Vaughn and Wilson were in a “Pursuit of Googliness.”
At the start of the story, Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are salesmen looking to pitch a wholesale deal of wristwatches to a business owner who recently expanded his operation. In preparation, the two research the client as if they were going to crash a wedding or sell him a piece of real estate (if only they had the Glengarry leads). Pumping themselves up to a music mix that consists of Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic,” ultimately they are late to discover the impracticality of watches in a modern age. “Everything’s computerized,” their boss (John Goodman) tells them while in the process of firing his dutiful serfs.
Looking down at my own wristwatch, I guess that makes me a dinosaur – in the same tradition as playing an arcade shooter in 2015 Hill Valley.
Of course, knowing nothing about HTML5, C++, they fumble their way through their interview with Google via Skype, yet are amiable to the selection committee that their real world experience is enough to outshine other, much younger applicants still in college.
Much of the comedy is the two participating in a series of team challenges with the winning group being awarded full time jobs. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the outcome, but the story, which was conceived by Vaughn and written by Jared Stern (The Watch) and himself, while pedestrian in its execution, touches on themes that are all too real in today’s environment. Taking the easy route instead of the road less traveled. The cynicism of the American Dream and how today’s youth see it as just a dream and nothing more.
When the dust settles and the groups have formed, Nick and Billy see themselves aligned with three college kids that are intelligent and bright, but look like the type that would be picked last in Phys Ed. We have an uninterested youth who would rather look at his cell phone than the world around him; a home-schooled twenty-year-old who may have been severely disciplined by his mother; and a sassy gal who uses sexual jokes to disguise her lack of intimacy. As with any team building problems are expected. However in The Internship those problems are heightened when you have forty-somethings with college kids working together.
Also expected are shenanigans, and depending on what you find funny you’ll either laugh or roll your eyes in boredom. As novel as it is to pep the team up with constant references to the ‘80s film Flashdance, surely Vaughn could have come up with better movie reference points (maybe go meta and play up team building as seen in the comedy Dodgeball). The fact that the interns knew the film is a sign that the eighties still resonate with the youth of today. What doesn’t resonate is an odd reference to “Bill Holden in Stalag 17” a movie I’m pretty sure 95% of twenty year olds have never seen.
Nevertheless, your enjoyment of The Internship will likely depend on your recent nostalgia for Wedding Crashers and seeing the reunion of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Sadly, this is much tamer to that broad comedy (PG-13 vs. R). The two actors are still stuck in their man-child ways, with one falling out of a relationship and the other being commitment-phobic. Since this is discussed in the first act, at least when the romantic subplot arrives it doesn’t feels forced upon ala what we got in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.
Highlights are few, but the biggest may be Vaughn. His character can flat-out talk and has a certain attitude that you wonder if it is the material or just another variation of him. Either way, seeing him in this light you just wish he’d attempt more challenging, dialogue-heavy material. Still, it’s hard to overlook the sappy sentimentality, which is underscored by Christophe Beck. There are moments where the music kicks up and flashbacks to moral-of-the-episode moments ala Full House popped into my head.
The Internship isn’t a bad comedy; it feels like a placeholder this summer, used to separate broader comedies like The Hangover Part III and Seth Rogen’s This Is the End. It’s a safe comedy in the tradition of what can be seen weekly on CBS. Take that for what it’s worth. Unless you are really jonesing for a Vaughn-Wilson comedy, your best bet is to wait and pick it up at Redbox.
Director: Shawn Levy Writer: Vince Vaughn and Jared Stern Notable Cast: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella, John Goodman
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!