“The Internship” opens Friday at Point, Eastgate and Star Cinema. PG-13, 1:59, two stars out of four.
Once I realized that “The Internship” wasn’t going to be that good, it wasn’t that bad.
I realize that’s the faintest of praise for the new comedy reuniting “Wedding Crashers” Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, but it’s true. Once you accept that the movie isn’t going to be that funny, and isn’t going to be particularly sharp or thoughtful, it’s able to coast on the charms of its stars. For a while.
Vaughn and Wilson play Billy and Nick, two watch salesmen who have been made obsolete in the age of iPhones. (Watches are obsolete? Then why is Esquire magazine trying to sell me a $9,000 one every month?) After Googling for possible job opportunities, using keywords like “jobs for people with few skills” (good joke), Billy hits on it. Google. The fortysomething pals will enroll as interns at the company.
Entering a campus that looks unnervingly like the Madison Children’s Museum, slides and all, the pair find that their summer internship isn’t really an internship, but a semester-long competition with other students for jobs at Google. Of course, they land on a team of misfit nerds, and of course they are derided by the cool kids, led by Max Minghella. And, of course, Billy and Nick use some of that Generation X moxie to whip their team into shape.
“The Internship” unabashedly hits all the familiar beats of the campus comedy — the nerdiest kid turns into a wild man under Vaughn’s tutelage, Wilson’s charm defrosts a chilly professor — er, I mean, Google executive — played by Rose Byrne. Padded to nearly two hours, the movie lurches from one challenge to another, from coding to Quidditch, without much logic or wit. If this is really how Google selects its new employees, Bing should be eating its lunch.
But Wilson and Vaughn are certainly affable comedic actors, and Vaughn co-wrote the screenplay, playing to his strengths with long, digressive monologues delivered at rat-a-tat pacing. I also liked Josh Gad as a mysterious campus presence who gives Vaughn some sage advice. And there are moments where the film hints at the dire state of the economy, as when the younger members of the team fret about their job prospects, or when Billy and Nick’s boss (John Goodman) explains the gloomy outlook for their middle-aged careers thusly: “Where you’re going, you’ve already been.”
In the case of this overly familiar comedy, that goes double.