Movie Review: The Internship

Let’s be honest here: The Internship is not a movie that would normally make it onto my summer radar. For one, my tolerance for dumb comedies is pretty low, and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson tend to be hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes I really love the stuff they do (Dodgeball, Wedding Crashers), and other times it makes me want to stick a fork in my eye (Four Christmases, I Spy).

For two, it’s a movie about the tech industry—which is my day job—and Hollywood is notoriously terrible about how they handle pretty much any and all computer-related things. So it’s also an invitation to an hour and a half of resisting the urge to scream “COMPUTERS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY” in the middle of a crowded theater.

However, there are certain things you can do to get me to see a movie like this. One, take an actor I really, really like.

Dylan O'Brien as Stiles, Teen Wolf

STILES!

Two, put him in glasses.

Dylan O'Brien in The Internship. With glasses.

Like so.

What will inevitably happen is I will come out of some kind of fog at the theater, movie ticket in hand, wondering why the hell my bank balance is $10 lighter.

Which is almost exactly what happened to Eris and me on Sunday.

Thankfully, The Internship was pretty entertaining; I laughed more than I expected (though yes, I did bury my head in my hands several times). *

However, it really wasn’t as good as Wedding Crashers, and frankly, it’s kind of strange to watch a movie and realize you’ve spent two hours basically watching other people do your job.

internship-posterNick (Owen Wilson) and Billy (Vince Vaughn) are best friends, salesmen, and very, very good at what they do. So they’re understandably surprised when the company they work for closes its doors, the owner retires to Florida, and they’re left without jobs.

Billy, always the one with the big ideas, gets them an interview for a summer internship at Google (that could possibly lead to a job), and thanks to some quick talking, they actually get in. But they’re competing with hundreds of other kids who are twice as smart as them and much more comfortable in the tech world than Nick and Billy are. Can Nick and Billy make their old-school skills relevant in this strange new world, or will they be left behind?

First off, the tech stuff—not nearly as bad as I feared (probably in a large part because Google had their name all over this). The parts that made me cringe were supposed to make you cringe (at least, I hope they were), and they, for the most part, glossed over anything more technical than a few mentions of HTML5. (This was kind of a relief.)

(I also had a lot of trouble believing that two 40ish-year-old guys would be that clueless about the Internet and online stuff, but when I mentioned that to Jessica, she gave me a horrified look and assured me it was very possible. She spends more time talking to people about this than I do. 🙂 )

For the most part, I liked Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in this, though Vaughn was a little more hit or miss for me. Sometimes his stuff was hysterical, and other times I just wanted to beg him to stop talking. Nothing in here was as clever or memorable as their stuff in Wedding Crashers, except perhaps for the very, very beginning, when they’re listening to Alanis Morissette’s Ironic to psych themselves up for a sales meeting.

And really, it surprised me how much I enjoyed the sales scenes, particularly the ones near the end. I think it’s because I’ve been involved peripherally in enough of those meetings to understand the feelings on both sides, hearing the objections and scrambling to deal with them. An odd thing to click with, but there you go.

But once you get past all the Google stuff, The Internship sticks close to the standard underdog story formula. The interns are all split into groups and must compete in various contests, and the group with the highest score will be the ones offered jobs. And of course, Nick and Billy are left with the outcasts.

Watching the movie, it was far too easy to mentally call out what was going to happen next. Heck, even if you’ve seen the trailer you can make a fairly educated guess as to how things are going to go.

It’s not impossible to overcome predictability, but if your story is hitting all the standard beats, you’ve got to find a way to twist it up just a little bit. It’s for this reason that one of the best bits, easily, is the Quidditch game, which almost had me rolling on the ground. Unfortunately, except for another couple of scenes, the rest of the movie wasn’t quite as clever about surprising the audience.

So, overall: not as bad as I expected, but still not as good as some other comedies Vaughn and Wilson have done. I saw it at a matinee and feel like I got my money’s worth, though with movies like Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Man of Steel in theaters, it’s difficult to advocate seeing this one before it hits DVD.

* Of COURSE I loved Dylan O’Brien in it. What, was there a question of that? Then again, I’m pretty sure I could watch him make snarky comments for two hours straight and be perfectly happy… Actually, I know I can because I’ve chain-watched six episodes of Teen Wolf in one sitting.

A to Z Challenge – W is for Wedding Crashers

wedding-crashersLately, it seems that most studios are pushing broad PG-13 movies in the hopes of appealing to the widest possible audience. While you can’t blame them (too much) for wanting to make money, the problem with this plan is that it usually results in them hacking an R-rated movie to pieces in order to get the coveted PG-13 rating. This typically results in a sub-par product that is not nearly as bitingly funny as it could’ve been. Sometimes it’s okay to play it safe, but usually in order to make it big, you’ve got to take a risk.

Thankfully, Wedding Crashers embraces its R rating, and strikes that perfect balance: It doesn’t go for the gratuitous and unnecessary, but stays comfortably raunchy. Although it has a couple of montages that go on for a wee bit too long (the bike ride to the beach springs to mind) and suffers from the clichés brought on by the inevitable reveal, it’s still the funniest movie I’ve seen all year. And when I say “funniest,” I mean that if you have any sort of sense of humor, you won’t be able to breathe for the first two hours.

John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) are best friends, divorce mediators, and professional wedding crashers, meaning they go to weddings and use the atmosphere and alcohol to bed willing bridesmaids. They crash the biggest wedding of the year – that of Treasury Secretary William Cleary’s (Christopher Walken) daughter – and John falls hard for one of Cleary’s other daughters, Claire (Rachel McAdams).

Jeremy, meanwhile, attracts daughter #3, Gloria (Isla Fisher), and is in over his head before the reception ends. Despite Jeremy’s frantic attempts to get John to leave, the two “cousins” accept an invitation to the family’s beach house so John can attempt to woo Claire away from her ultra-competitive jerk of a boyfriend.

As you can imagine, hijinks ensue.

Said “hijinks” include a quail hunt, a “touch” football game, an extremely interesting dinner involving a vocally racist grandmother, gay bondage, regular bondage, attempted nursing, and a nude painting.

This movie is proof that Vince Vaughn is, to put it mildly, a genius. His humor comes more from biting sarcasm rather than physical comedy (although there’s plenty of that, too), and it is best delivered at the same speed as attained by an Indy 500 car. His mile-a-minute bit on why he hates dating near the beginning of the movie is gut-busting because it’s so damn true, and that’s what got me hooked on the movie.

His character Jeremy is the crazier of the two bachelors, and thus the more interesting. He is bound and determined to continue the legacy of wedding crashing that they’ve inherited for as long as they can.

Jeremy is also the one who gets the raw end of the deal once they get to the beach house: while John tries to get Claire’s attention and make her fall for him, Jeremy is the one getting tackled by her boyfriend, then “nursed” by the slightly psycho sister who now proclaims to be in love with him. The only thing keeping him at that house is his friendship with John. (How good of a friend are you?)

Owen Wilson plays the straight (well, straighter) man. John is the slightly more sensitive of the two, the one who realizes that the two men can’t continue their frat guy shenanigans forever, but is still going to have a good time while it lasts.

He provides the “serious” plot for the movie, with his attempts to get with the single sane member of the Cleary clan. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his share of interesting adventures, though, especially with Claire’s horny mom (a hilarious Jane Seymour) trying to get some action.

Christopher Walken is one of the few character actors whose name on the front of a DVD box will get most people I know to rent a movie, and he plays a great powerful father. He likes John but is petrifying to Jeremy, and one would think that Daddy would be the biggest hurdle to getting with any one of the Cleary daughters.

Another (surprisingly welcome) cameo comes in the form of Will Ferrell, and even though he’s in serious danger of career overkill, he’s at his best when he’s acting like a complete nut, and he’s nutty here indeed.

However, the standout of the cast is relative newcomer Isla Fisher, the actress who plays Gloria. She’s a few cards short of a full deck, and is more than a match for the commitment-phobic Jeremy. The temper tantrum she throws to get her father’s permission for the “cousins” to come to the beach house is classic. Something about a grown woman holding her breath and stomping her feet, while in a formal dress, is comical, to put it mildly.

Gloria seems to have no boundaries, and will stop at nothing in her attempts to bed Jeremy once they get to the beach house. She’s alternately intriguing and terrifying, and it’s hard to decide if she’s sexy or just a lunatic like the rest of the family.

The one thing I hate about these types of comedies are the reveals, because every one is exactly the same. An antagonist gets a feeling that our leads are not what they say, and goes about searching for proof. Then, proof is given at a very inopportune moment, and our lead(s) must ‘fess up or let the antagonist do it for them.

This inevitably results in hurt feelings and a major rift, just in time to provide the major obstacle for the final half of the movie. Of course, that usually leads to a zany and improbable plan to get the love interest’s attention, and then shower them with a clichéd profession of true love.

Gag me with a spoon. Wedding Crashers, naturally, has this reveal and many of the clichés that go along with it, but fortunately it also has Vince Vaughn to lighten the mood and a long-overdue punching after the profession of love. So, you win some, you lose some.

Wedding Crashers is proof that if you want to make something funny, you shouldn’t play it safe. It’s just some good, clean, R-rated fun. Grandparents and young children, beware.

From 2003 up until 2007, I was lucky enough to have “movie reviewer” as my job description. As such, I’ve built up a *lot* of reviews for just about every movie that came out during those years, as well as reviews of classic movies. This is one of the reviews I originally wrote during that time.