I can only imagine how difficult it must be to try and capture lightning in a bottle twice. Now imagine trying to do something like that in Hollywood. Eight years ago, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson paired up to deliver one of the biggest comedies of all time with Wedding Crashers. About $285 million worldwide later, it is inevitable that the two are back together to bring more yuks to the big screen. Unfortunately, this time they brought along director Shawn Levy who knows all too well how to make a bad movie — see Real Steal, Night at the Museum 2, The Pink Panther, Cheaper by the Dozen. His only tolerable films are the first Night at the Museum and Date Night. If you feel a little weary at all after reading those titles, then you may want to steer clear of his latest misfire, The Internship.
Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are suffering from a case of Live Free or Die Hard — they’re a Timex watch in a digital world; literally. They sell watches for a living and have just found out from the sale they’re trying to close that the business has gone under. Their boss (John Goodman) scoots them out the door because no one wears watches anymore; everyone just checks the time on their phones. (The irony here being that the colleague sitting next to me kept checking his watch for us as the movie slogged along.) Nick takes up his sister’s offer to go to work for her boyfriend (Will Ferrell) but he’s only there a few hours before Billy walks in and rescues him with an interview for an internship at Google.
Faking their way through the interview, they wind up at what appears to be the most laid back work facility this side of Pixar Animation Studios. Nick and Billy think they’ve got it made, but soon learn that the two know even less about computer skills than they thought. Taken under the wing of Lile (Josh Brener), along with outcasts Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael), Stewart (Dylan O’Brien), and Naya (Tiya Sircar), they must make their way through the internship program together; even if Nick and Billy can’t stop dragging the team down. There are also subplots involving an arch nemesis (Max Minghella) and a love interest for Nick (Rose Byrne), but with the film clocking in at a whopping two hours — at least a half hour too long — you start to lose track of what’s going on and just wait for the movie to end.
While The Internship does manage to squeeze out at least a few laughs, the biggest one it got from me was coincidental. Over the weekend, some friends discussed the infamous lisp of Barcelona, and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when Vince Vaughn shouts out “Barthalona” at the beginning. With Vaughn listed as co-writer and producer, it’s no wonder he’s allowed to run wild through the movie, but just as Naya tells him at one point, “You’re just saying a lot of words really fast that don’t mean anything.” The same is sadly true of the whole endeavor. There’s also a barrage of 80s references that go way over the heads of the kids, especially considering how much the movie emphasizes that Billy and Nick are from some kind of stone age.
The supporting youngsters are very likable; Wilson and Byrne have at least a tiny bit of chemistry, but their scenes together are few and far between. Had they been working with a director who knows how to pull everything together (or had gotten back together with Wedding Crashers’ David Dobkin), maybe they could have pulled off the reunion we were hoping for. Being stunted with a PG-13 rating certainly doesn’t help either because fans of their last union will be looking for something far raunchier and definitely way funnier. In the end, The Internship just drags along, hitting every college comedy beat along the way, but without any jokes.
Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation