The Review: 'The Internship' Doesn't Get the Job Done

The Review: 'The Internship' Doesn't Get the Job Done

Jun 07, 2013

In the future, when the minimum wage has been abolished and the remaining jobs are dispensed via lottery and people fight over moldy crumbs of Soylent Green in the street, the furious, gnawing population of Post-America may look back at The Internship and think of it as relevant, a beacon of hope, full of comforting but somehow still indecipherable messages about courage and dreams (that's a line in the film, by the way, "Have the courage to dream." SO TRUE! YOU SHOULD!) But for now it's just stupid nonsense.

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play middle-aged salesmen whose company folds. Unable to find new jobs, they wind up applying for Google's summer internship program and, because they've got spunk, moxie, get-up-and-go, pep and double the can-do attitude, somehow beat out the other 39,000 young people with actual qualifications. Once there, they mentor a group of nerdy misfits through a series of Big Brother-style Googling challenges. All of these kids want a shot at full-time Google employment but they lack the interpersonal skills and hands-on experiences of the old guys, so it's time they went to Vince and Owen's University of Real Living. What's so hard about learning to program code, anyway? You can pick that up overnight. Wilson does with just a little oomph and pluck and try-harding and so does Vaughn -- oh, wait, sorry, Vaughn never does, but still fully succeeds. This is because he has the courage to dream.

Google is depicted, and maybe rightfully so, as a gumdrop palace of a workplace (the whole cooperating with oppressive governments to censor the Internet thing isn't mentioned). There are big slides because stairs are for the olds. There's free food and multi-colored bikes. There are sleepytime nap pods. Someone's always making you play volleyball, apparently whether you want to or not. Everyone's extremely happy and UP UP UP and holy crap prison never felt this much like a bouncy-house.

At one point in this unfunny, never-ending lap dance for its cooperating company -- two full hours, y'all -- the cast goes on a field trip to an elaborate strip club where the dancers wear bras. This sequence goes on for an extremely long time and mostly involves the old dudes showing the kids how to truly party instead of always just looking at their iPhones and pretending to be unimpressed by the sights of almost-naked ladies gyrating right in front of them. The evening includes a lesson in hitting on a stripper you really, really, really like. Wisdom: "Sometimes the most radical move is just to be yourself!" Totally.

There's a story to be told about middle-aged men encountering the rapidly changing economic landscape of 2013, one where sudden unemployment and, worse, the culture's cruel embrace of a Logan's Run worldview that considers people irrelevant after an arbitrary age makes finding new work the moral equivalent of climbing a life-threatening cliff. There's also a film to made about the shatteringly ugly New Economy where young people are doomed before they start and unpaid internships are the new entry level. There's even a comedy to be made about these things. This isn't it, of course, but someone should do that.

Unless this is meant to be a kind of half-assed remake of 1987's Summer School; honestly, right now I just don't know. But if it is then it's kind of almost a complete near success.

Categories: Reviews
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