It may be hard for many to remember a time before Google, the ubiquitous search-engine which is for most users of the World Wide Web, the first stop when they’re looking for information on … anything. In reality however Google has only been with us for fifteen years. If though, like Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson’s characters in the new Twentieth Century Fox film The Internship (2013), life progressed quite happily for you before the internet, then this timely comedy by director Shawn Levy will be right up your street.
Billy (Vaughan) and Nick (Wilson), two middle aged designer watch salesmen suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, find themselves unemployed. In the dog-eat-dog work market where you’re only as good as the next batch of university graduates, Billy and Nick will literally do anything to find a job. So it is that they apply for the annual summer intern programme with internet giant Google, in the hope of landing a highly prized prized position with e company at the end. However they soon realise that the odds are against them when faced with a group of twenty-somethings who will stop at nothing to work at the place where everyday is, quite literally, a rainbow.
If you can see past the film’s blatantly signposted subplots, then you may well enjoy it. If, on the other hand, you were wanting insight into issues such as the unfair practice of large corporations utilising the skills of young people for free under the guise of ‘work experience’, you’ll be disappointed. The lack of depth though shouldn’t really be surprising considering the two actors in the central roles. Vaughan and Wilson have honed their image as loveable buffoons whilst building lucrative cinematic careers in the process, leaving audiences in no doubt as to what to expect when either of them head the cast.
It is also this characteristic silliness however, which is the film’s saving grace. Vaughn and Wilson’s laddish lack of reverence often proves irksome. Here though their characters are the more appealing, reflecting the uptight qualities of their younger counterparts who, old before their time, lack the common sense to go out there and enjoy life before it passes them by. Competently portrayed, these supporting players are the kind of computer nerds and socially inept high achievers which ‘society’ as a whole increasingly tells young people they should be if they are to get anywhere in today’s cutthroat job market.
Occasionally the schoolboy humour you’d expect from Vaughan in particular rears its ugly head – which is hardly surprising when he is credited as the film’s main writer along with Jared Stern. Moments such as Lyle (played with geeky nerdishness by Josh Brener), the bespectacled leader of Billy and Nick’s project group, raising his arm in the air and encouraging Billy to give him ‘high-five’ by shouting at him to ‘fist me’ may is certainly cringe inducing. Fortunately though such minor indiscretions are done so firmly ‘tongue-in-cheek’ that their crassness is easily overlooked.
In a time when Google is mired in scandal about everything from breaches of privacy to tax avoidance, anything which raises their public image can only be a good thing. What amounts to a free two hour product placement is not to be sneezed at either in our new age of austerity. Whether The Internship – which like Google looks sharp but has little of real substance beneath the surface – will have the desired effect, or whether it will go down as simply another piece of innocuous fun, as memorable as the next batch of postgrad job seekers hoping to impress during their summer work-placements, is another question.
The Internship is in cinemas 3rd July 2013.
Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne
Runtime: 119 min