It's hard to imagine that anyone, even the dimmest of pop culture know-whats, could've legitimately, wholeheartedly expected another Wedding Crashers (2005) from the reunited duo of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Not that it's the latter's fault, though—with 2011's excellent Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris, and the recent news that he's been cast as a lead in Paul Thomas Anderson's next project, Inherent Vice, Wilson still displays the urge to challenge himself as an actor from time to time, and in The Internship, his few scenes away from Vaughn are the film's best moments by far, easygoing and charmingly played alongside his character's expectedly underwritten love interest, played by Rose Byrne.
No, give the bulk of the negative credit to Mr. Vaughn, who also co-wrote this lazy, uninspired mishmash of underdog comedy cliches about two suddenly unemployed middle-aged men—Billy and Nick, played by Vaughn and Wilson, respectively—who enroll into an intense, competition-heavy internship program at the almighty tech conglomerate Google. Sticking to his usual arrested development, I-think-I'm-the-smartest-guy-in-the-room-when-clearly-I'm-not shtick, Vaughn coasts through director Shawn Levy's tepid non-starter with a somewhat admirable verve but barely even pedestrian material. He's still acting like it's 2005, and writing screenplays that shamelessly pillage from his own 2004 comedy Dodgeball. The Internship plays like a Vince Vaughn's greatest hits compilation that's undesirably chopped and screwed.
Somehow, though, amidst the wreckage of pummeled creativity and shackled self-progression, The Internship does manage to earn a few reluctant smiles—nothing resembling genuine laughter, mind you, but the occasional bent cheek or two. In an effort to save curious Wedding Crashers fans who are thisclose to paying for an overpriced movie ticket this weekend, let's break down The Internship's few and scattered moments of honest-to-goodness humor. Leave those Snickers bars alone—this won't take long.
The First Sign That They Really Want to Appease the Wedding Crashers Crowd...
Early into The Internship, Old Reliable himself Will Ferrell shows up for a short but marginally sweet cameo, playing Wilson's character's sister's boyfriend, who's recently become his boss at a mattress store. Sporting a Tyson-like face tattoo and sleazy facial hair, Ferrell unsurprisingly owns his performance as a one-dimensional pervert. Even when the jokes he's spitting are flatter than bugs on windshields (namely, a random and stale Gossip Girl reference), the seasoned pro elevates the sequence just off of his presence alone.
In walks a sexy and curvy young customer, and Ferrell's all over it. The opening line he tells Wilson he's about to introduce himself with: "Knock, knock, it's me…and my PP." It's the film's first undeniably earned laugh, particularly in how Ferrell delivers it, with a certain kind of Ricky Bobby swagger. But, still, it makes you wish this Ferrell character was on the screen instead:
An Out-of-Place Moment of Tenderness
Midway into The Internship, Billy and Nick decide that their team of fellow interns needs to loosen up a bit and step outside of the Google headquarters. And why wouldn't they—they're your generic grab-bag assortment of standard young characters in a movie of this ilk. There's the uptight Asian kid with mommy issues, Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael); the standoffish, good-looking rebel, Stuart (Dylan O'Brien); the attractive token female who's first lines are, naturally, flirtatious, named Neha (Tiya Sarcar); and the team's leader, Lyle (Josh Brener), your run-of-the-mill nerd who overcompensates for his rampant geekiness by trying to sound cool ("I dooz it!") and appear slicker than he actually is. Case in point:
The nightclub scene hits all of the necessarily hackneyed beats. The nerds hesitantly down shots of tequila, and, as a result, go absolutely buck-wild, dancing on poles, pounding more drinks, licking glass mirrors for no good reason. And, shocker, a bunch of stock-room bullies ruin their evening, causing Billy and Nick to step in and literally kick-start a bar fight.
After the scuffle, though, Neha confides in Billy about how she's all talk when it comes to sexual stuff, that she's inexperienced because, in her mind, guys don't find her attractive. How Vaughn plays Billy's acts of positive reinforcement hint at the kind of endearing actor he could be if he'd stop cashing checks as Hollywood's biggest underachiever and dabbled in the world of drama for a change. The scene isn't funny as much as it is, yes, sweet. It makes you wish Vaughn had approached The Internship with a funny yet vulnerable film like Pitch Perfect in mind, and not, well, Wedding Crashers.
Evidence That Owen Wilson and Rose Byrne Should Co-Star in a Rom-Com Together
As previously mentioned, Wilson's exchanges with Byrne's character, Dana (an underdeveloped all work and no play Google employee), recharge The Internship's proverbial batteries whenever they occur, which, unfortunately, isn't often enough. As it stands, their love connection, aside from being easily predicted and conventionally developed, adds nothing to the plot, other than to fulfill Nick's earlier throwaway scene with his sister, in which she tells him he needs to finally settle down with a girl (bet you can't guess if he ultimately does or not!).
Wilson and Byrne only get a few perfunctory scenes together, but they make the best of them. Their highlight together is their characters' first date, a sit-down dinner at a fancy-pants restaurant. Dana tells Nick that she was hoping he'd be more of an asshole so that she wouldn't like him and their interactions could cease, but he's successfully charmed her guardedness clean off. Looking to further mesmerize Dana with his witty personality, Nick playfully starts acting like a douche, hitting on the cute blonde waitress, pouring Dana's glass of wine into his own, and telling her the bill is her responsibility.
It's not exactly Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Crazy, Stupid, Love, but, compared to the rest of The Internship's ho-hum comedy, the extended Wilson/Byrne scene is the second coming of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.
Still invested in those pre-guide plans to see The Internship? Don't say you weren't warned. If you must reward Vaughn and Wilson for choosing this inert project as their back-in-a-tandem endeavor, though, try this: Buy one of those super-sized sodas at the concession stand and take a big gulp every time you see or hear the word Google on the big screen. The Internship, at its most reprehensible, is basically a glorified, two-hour advertisement for Bing's biggest rival. Playing that swig-game will send you to the nearest restroom before you even make it Vaughn's heart-to-heart with Sircar—this guide will really come in handy then.
Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)