Despite being somewhat shallow and predictable, “The Internship” co-stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn still manage to get a few laughs from the audience in what is perhaps the most extensive and drawn-out example of cinematic product placement to date.
In the movie, which was released on DVD and Blu-ray Oct. 22, Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson) find themselves vying for a full-time position at Google after their longtime sales jobs become obsolete in the face of new technology.
The film, most of which takes place at Google’s real-life headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., basically serves as a 119-minute advertisement for the billion-dollar tech company, showcasing its state-of-the-art offices and employee perks like free coffee and food. It even finishes with a feel-good dialogue about the company’s people-first values. In “The Internship,” Google isn’t just another element of the screenplay or part of an important event — it’s central to the entire plot.
A series of awkward webcam interviews—on a “Google hangout”—barely allow the two spots in Google’s high-stakes internship program, which pits Billy and Nick against young computer geniuses with Ivy League educations and cutthroat attitudes. The interns are separated into teams to compete for the final prize: a guaranteed job with Google.
In a schoolyard-style frenzy to pick teams, Vaughn and Wilson find themselves grouped with the leftover interns: Neha (Tiya Sircar), a Indian American girl with not only striking looks but an uncomfortable amount of unresolved sexual tension; Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), a brooding cynic who rarely looks up from his smartphone; and Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael), a quiet and perpetually stressed Asian American boy. Their leader, Lyle (Josh Brener), is brilliant but insecure and anxious to prove himself to his colleagues with a win.
Though the team struggles through its first computer challenge, they rally together in a Quidditch match against their rival intern team. The scene is classic Vaughn with an inspirational halftime speech involving ‘80s hit “Flashdance” as he clumsily attempts to understand the fictional sport from Harry Potter in “muggle words.”
The film plays out predictably but still leaves the audience smiling. Frequent collaborators Vaughn and Wilson are laughably out of place amongst cynical, sarcastic college students, but still manage to bring positivity and humor to a group of pessimistic twenty-somethings who have little concept of their “American Dream” of prosperity.
A particularly funny scene occurs when the team is challenged to create a smartphone app and an out-of-touch Vaughn spends several minutes describing his winning app idea: Exchange-a-gram, which is virtually the same thing as Instagram, a popular photo-sharing app.
The generation gap between the duo and their teammates makes for some hilarious one-liners and a feel-good ending, but the movie overall lacks memorability. The chemistry between Vaughn and Wilson can’t thrive in the movie’s formulaic environment, and combined with the ridiculous amount of product placement, “The Internship” fails to make any lasting impact on viewers. However, the laughs make this worth the cheap rental price for a one-time viewing.