I went into The Internship having a hard time looking past its one note joke premise involving two out of place funny men working at Google. But, it was the comedy’s first couple of scenes that made me question if I was going to be eating crow by the end credits. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson playing Billy and Nick – a couple of out-of-touch, amusingly snide and bitter watch salesmen – were making me laugh.
The film is directed by Shawn Levy, the director who brought audiences Date Night. During the first half hour of The Internship, I was getting the same type of laughs Date Night offered at an identical pace. The comedy wasn’t anything to write home about, but the amount of consistent snickers the film was handing out surprised me.
It also helps that Vaughn and Wilson work well together. Even though Wedding Crashers is one of the most overrated movies of the past decade, they apparently used that experience to find a comedic wavelength that works. Their chemistry isn’t staggering and both performances play off as a legitimate, workable routine.
There’s that word, however. Routine. It’s funny how a simple enough word like “routine” can point out a strength and then be turned into a criticism that can be applied to the rest of the movie.
“That has to be the most typical movie I’ve seen in a while,” my wife said once the last frame faded out. She’s right. The movie is incredibly ordinary and doesn’t allow anything interesting to happen. It’s practically a no-fly zone for laughter once the boys head to Google.
The quick timing between Vaughn and Wilson is put to use through a derivative plot featuring an underdog team of interns fighting for employment against other competitive smart alecks. When the underdogs are alone with each other working on projects, the humour focuses on the age gap between our leads and the rest of the young team as well as how recent technological advancements are leaving Billy and Nick in the dust.
The screenplay, written by Vaughn and Jared Stern, is shy and rudimentary. Its tameness ties down Vaughn and Wilson to stay within the confines of a PG-13 rating and not go to the lengths they did in the aforementioned R-rated romp. I wasn’t looking for the film to push buttons and limits, but I hate to see talent restrained and yielded.
It’s clear to see that the two quick-witted leading men like to stay on their toes and compete in games of verbal ping-pong; even if that means veering away from the written material. The ultimate rule of comedy is timing, however, and the ample games of ping-pong stumble when the younger cast gets involved with Vaughn and Wilson’s shenanigans.
I had a similar problem when I reviewed a Canadian comedy titled Lloyd the Conquerer. It was constantly apparent who was skilled in comedy and who needed more rehearsal time. It’s the same deal with The Internship. I didn’t care for the stereotypes Billy and Nick were paired up with and found the whole ordeal to be a strain as it clocked in at two hours.
The Internship feels dated too; as if the film’s script had been gradually written over a number of years. For example, one level of the competition involves teams going head-to-head in a Quidditch match. The Harry Potter homage is every bit as out of place as it sounds.
That said, I’ll take the discombobulated pop culture details over the tremendously tasteless bits about Tobit Raphael’s loner intern dealing with his abusive pushy mother and his unmentioned trichotillomania. All played for laughs, ladies and gentlemen.
The Internship isn’t worth giving a hoot about, but it’s still dissatisfying to see a film as lofty and lazy as this. It suffers through evident, easily avoidable errors with an unwillingness to step outside the box.