“Welcome to Google” — a phrase hundreds of tech-savvy interns are dying to hear — jumpstarts director Shawn Levy’s comedy, “The Internship,” and sends the audience spiraling through two hours of guffaws and giggles.
After getting laid off from their jobs as watch salesmen once their company goes under, Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are baffled as they try to grapple with unemployment. While searching for jobs on Google, Billy realizes their new positions could lie within the search engine itself. He then convinces Nick, who landed a new job at a mattress store, to quit his job and interview for an internship at Google. After a questionable Skype interview, the two are ultimately hired because of their “creative” thinking skills, alleged knowledge of HTML and physics, and their degrees from the University of Phoenix, which they say is considered “the Harvard of Internet colleges.”
When the two arrive at Google’s headquarters in Silicon Valley, Calif., they realize, as do the rest of the interns, that they are clearly the oldest “Nooglers” — new Googlers — in the room and have the least amount of technological aptitude. Nonetheless, they must work alongside the other interns as they are tasked with creating a team to win five technology-focused challenges in order to be guaranteed permanent jobs at Google when the summer concludes.
Wilson and Vaughn return in their first film together since 2005’s comedy showstopper, “Wedding Crashers,” and bring the same spirit, energy and comedic presence they brought to the characters of John Beckwith and Jeremy Grey in the film. Their ability to schmooze their way through any situation and work their charm on their teammates — both inside and outside the office — is an absolute reflection of the antics the pair experienced in “Wedding Crashers.”
To top it off, one scene in “The Internship” almost turns itself into “Wedding Crashers” meets “Dodgeball,” Vaughn’s 2004 comedy flick: One of the challenges involves a game of Quidditch. The intensity of the game is portrayed through quick cuts of each team shooting the “Quaffle” — a volleyball — into a hoop, paired with the sound of powerful drums and trumpets similar to those in the song “The Final Countdown.” Additionally, the actual throwing of kickballs at one another is reminiscent of one of Vaughn’s older comedies, which adds a sense of joyful reminiscence to the film.
While the film may give a few nods to Vaughn’s career — intentionally or not — it brings original humor as well. In one scene, a team challenge is to debug a computer code, but because of their inexperience in coding, Billy and Nick think the group is supposed to literally “de-bug” the code; so the two begin brainstorming solutions out loud involving insects.
Though the dynamic duo of Wilson and Vaughn bring humor to the film, the stereotypical schoolyard bully, Graham (Max Minghella), drags the film down. Graham’s interactions with Billy and Nick are supposed to make him seem arrogant and successful, but Minghella’s performance comes off as forced and unconvincing. His character lacks any sort of depth and maturity, which is shown through Graham’s petty insults and naive mocking of Billy and Nick’s old age throughout the movie.
However, the rag-tag team of Billy and Nick play off each other nicely. Billy’s speedy dialogue and obscure ’80s references confuse the rest of the team, making Billy look silly in front of the rest of the team members. Meanwhile, two of the other teammates, Neha (Tiya Sircar), a girl heavily interested in “Star Wars,” and Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), an unfriendly hipster glued to his smartphone, banter back and forth yet create a flicker of sexual tension through their exchanged glances.
Levy, who directed “Cheaper By the Dozen” in 2003 and “Night at the Museum” in 2006, starring Wilson, brings a cast full of misfits and a witty script — co-written by Vaughn — to create an imaginative comedy that proves nobody is too old to run with the “big boys,” who are, ironically, college students themselves.