What it's about
Two middle-ages former salesmen, who after having their careers destroyed by obsolescence and a terrible economy, apply for an internship at Google and despite knowing next to nothing, compete head to head with dozens of gifted, tech-savy teenagers and twenty-somethings for the final reward of a job at the illustrious company.
What we thought
Does Google really need to advertise this badly?
It's funny, despite being one of director Shawn Levy's more enjoyable efforts (not that that's saying much as the only truly worthwhile film he has ever made was the admittedly pretty great Real Steel), The Internship never gets past that central question. The movie's PR people are adamant that it's not just a glorified advert for Google but, whatever else you might say about it, The Internship's primary goal is clearly to tell us over and over and over again just how unbelievably and supernaturally swell Google is.
And, ya know what, Google is swell. Their products really are top notch and I'm sure it is a really interesting place to work that offers a veritable metric ton of perks for its employees. But Google's not exactly mired in controversy and aside for the small town of Pawnee, Indiana (that's for you my fellow Parks and Recreation fans), everyone with an internet connection isn't just aware of their products but actively use them on a very regular basis. There's a reason, after all, why “google” is now an official English word and “altavista” isn't.
So why precisely do we need a two hour long movie – and, more perplexingly, why do they need a two hour long movie – to sell us on a product that everyone uses and a work environment that hundreds, if not thousands, of graduates are all but selling their souls to join every year? It's not just pointless and unnecessary but, at its worst, its so repulsive that I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Google's stocks took a nose dive after the release of this film.
The Internship has generally been badly received but worst of all, speaking for myself, I came out of the film with a far worse impression of Google than I had going in. Anything that tries this hard, this shamelessly and this manipulatively to show how great it is pretty much immediately earns my distrust because, seriously, if something protest this much, it has to be hiding something, right? And presumably something big at that. As such, when I browsed over to Google's search page within an hour of seeing the film, as I so often do, I let out a pretty audible “bleeugh”. It's one thing for certain search results to elicit that kind of reaction, but the search engine itself?
Well done Google. Well done.
Oh that's right, I almost forgot. There is also a film under this revolting (but entirely ineffective) corporate huckstering and it is, like I may have mentioned, kind of okay, actually. It's plot is basically exactly the same as Monster University's once you get past the middle-aged thing but that's fine, it's a well-worn trope of many a college comedy for a reason. It's not exactly hilarious but it's amusing throughout and, despite all its ultra-vulgar suckling at ye old corporate teat, it's actually pretty good natured too. Vince Vaughn is more tolerable than he has been in many a year, while Owen Wilson is still just impossible not to like and Rose Byrne is as loveable as ever. Oh, and look out for a nice, extended role for The Daily Show's very funny Aasif Mandvi as well.
It's a perfectly nice, perfectly solid little comedy that on it's own terms would easily earn a respectable 3, maybe even 3.5, stars and I should be lauding it as a partial return to form for Vince Vaughn (apparently all it took was a bit of Owen Wilson coolness to offset his grating hyperactivity) but instead it's all I can do not to slap on it the dreaded one-star rating and condemn it to the depths of comedy hell that is usually reserved for the likes of Jack and Jill, Think Like a Man (funny that) and Epic Movie. I'll compromise at two stars but please dear Hollywood hacks, I trust this sort of thing won't happen again?