Monday, July 01, 2013

The Internship Review

A few weeks back a friend asked me to go see The Internship with her, and while I love a good comedy, reviewers haven't been overly kind with Vince Vaughn's and Owen Wilson's latest effort.  In truth I really wanted to go see Man of Steel, so taking all that into account I went without really expecting much.

The movie begins with Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) struggling in their careers as watch salesmen, ultimately getting laid off.  Technology has overtaken them and watches have become more or less obsolete thanks to smartphones.

Billy's girlfriend decides to leave him and Nick ends up working for her sister's boyfriend, Kevin (Will Ferrel), as a mattress salesman.  Both are miserable and downtrodden and one night Billy is searching via Google for random job opportunities that he could apply for.  Seeing nothing available, he gets the idea to search for Google-related jobs specifically and, knowing nothing about technology, has an epiphany:  an internship that can train them and lead to a real career.

Convincing Nick to leave his horrible mattress sales job, the two apply for a Google internship and after a goofy video conference interview, are actually selected, and they head off to Google's corporate head office to chase their dream of a real job.

This is the point where the movie should really shine, as the two go off to explore Google and get to know the other interns as they all compete with one another, but the film really does fall flat.  I personally found it bland, boring, and simply ridiculous in the way everyone was acting.  Every situation and encounter is very contrived and cliche and I found it more frustrating than entertaining.  The team of interns that Billy and Nick are chosen to work with are naturally frustrated at the duos' complete lack of any technical knowledge, and I share in that empathy.

The Google facility itself was very cool and the perks you saw the employees use were great, but the way Billy and Nick approached everything was simply foolish, and this persisted throughout the first half of the film.  I was already regularly checking my own watch to see how much running time was left, and then something odd happened that turned things around a bit.

Billy, Nick, and team needed to come up with a great app that they could create to pass the next test, and when they hit a complete road block they end up going to a strip club to unwind.  While Billy and Nick are at home in this environment the interns are not as they're more comfortable being closed off with tech and anti-social social networking, but ultimately everyone opens up and lets loose a little more and the team really begins to bond.

The film completely switches gears at this point from poorly attempted comedy to actually looking at the values of choices and life lessons and the harsh realities of the business world we live in today, and the sacrifices people need to make to get ahead.  As someone who's gone through these sorts of things, I found it easy to identify with the struggling interns' fears that no matter how good they are success is not guaranteed, and how all the work you put in could be for nothing and even if you do succeed, it'll likely be at the expense of other things in your personal life.

I wouldn't say the film became exceptional by any means, but at least for the last half it carried this higher standard and tone and was much more enjoyable and watchable; I stopped checking my own watch and even my smartphone.

Which rounds out what The Internship truly is, a light hearted and half-baked comedy that wasn't overly funny but brought about some interesting real-world life perspectives.  By the time the credits rolled I can say that I don't regret having seen The Internship, but I honestly can't recommend paying to see it as there are better films in theatres at the moment.  There were some groans, some laughs, and some insights, but the final product is something that will be easily forgotten through the summer as an overall mediocre attempt.

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