Zero stars (out of four)
Somewhere in his succession of playing lovable jerks, Vince Vaughn (“Swingers,” “Fred Claus,” “Couples Retreat,” etc.) stopped caring about being lovable. His motor-mouth shtick, undercut by a smirk to suggest he only mostly means what he says, congealed into nasty, arrogant autopilot—the guy who tells himself he's the funniest guy in the room and keeps talking talking talking to drown out the absence of laughter.
That brings us to “The Internship,” for which the Lake Forest-raised actor created the story, co-wrote the script, produced and stars as a fish out of water who essentially demands that the water come to him. Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson, Vaughn's co-star from the smug, over-praised “Wedding Crashers”) may be the oldest, least-experienced interns at Google, but they do next to nothing to adapt to the situation.
Perpetuating outdated stereotypes about, apparently, America’s clueless youth and tech-savvy nerds, the smarmy pair believes their fun-loving attitude and life experience supersede their colleagues’ education and work ethic and interest in collaborating with professional people. To be fair, though, the guys land the gig after being extremely obnoxious and clueless in a video-chat interview, so their superiors pretty much implied that such behavior would be tolerated.
Aside from the presence of Max Minghella, who's typically annoying as Billy and Nick's chief rival during team competitions for full-time jobs, “The Internship” is the polar opposite of “The Social Network,” depicting innovation and intelligence as if they're merely the fruits of ideas burped out by an aging slacker who doesn't know when to shut up.
The movie labors to assert that Vaughn—er, Billy—is more relevant than he seems, even though he lamely calls his manager Lyle (he of the “Fist me; get up in there” line from the excruciating trailer) “Gomer Lyle” and abbreviates “farm to table” as “F2T.” Other comedic fodder includes mindless jokes about Alzheimer's and skin cancer, mocking an overweight young girl for doing gymnastics and Will Ferrell’s minor character channeling Scott Disick and asking, “Have you done the back door yet?”
Like the Heat/Spurs series, there’s no one to root for in the condescending, disingenuous “The Internship,” and Vaughn really doesn’t want us to think about the women. Every female character is depicted as a beautiful sex object or an unattractive bitch. Poor Rose Byrne plays a Google employee who of course needs to work less and date more. Her character’s name may as well be “Nick's token love interest,” though there’s no sense of why she’s the keeper who finally motivates him to have a relationship longer than three months.
Following Vaughn’s full-length Costco ad “The Watch,” “The Internship” promotes Google while also making jokes like people saying “My noogler” in reference to a new Googler and generally establishing an extremely negative association with a brand that really needs no advertising. While the American job market isn’t exactly booming, “The Internship” still arrives late to the issue—3 1/2 years after George Clooney in “Up in the Air” and 2 1/2 years after the Ben Affleck-starring “The Company Men.”
If Vaughn cared about timing or comedic timing, though, he wouldn’t open the movie singing along to Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic,” which only proves that, yes, there is a way that song can be worse.
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