'The Internship' Movie Review: Fails To Live Up To 'Wedding Crashers'
For a movie with plenty of inspiring moments, it’s odd that The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, is such a downer. The obvious reason is that after the duo made Wedding Crashers eight years ago — an R-rated, joke-infused comedy with too many quotable lines to count — they’ve followed it up with this PG-13, tame and ultimately forgettable movie about two friends battling the rigors of age. The Internship can’t quite seem to shake the shadow that Wedding Crashers has cast, right down to a noticeable cameo that practically begs the movies be linked together. But the real point of comparison is not Wedding Crashers. In fact, it doesn’t even concern one half of this comedic duo, Owen Wilson, who has had a career filled with diverse roles that have pushed him to new heights as an actor, most notably in Woody Allen’s Midnight In Paris. No, after The Internship, which in some ways encourages introspection, it may be time for Vince Vaughn to do a little soul-searching himself.
It’s been nearly 20 years since Vaughn broke out in Swingers as the fast-talking, swagger-oozing ladies man trying to help his friend (Jon Favreau) get over an ex-girlfriend. Lean and loose with slicked-back hair, Vaughn looked as though he’d been squeezed out of a bottle of hair gel straight into a suit. He delivers the classic line, “Baby, you are so money and you don’t even know it,” at times casually, others loudly, but always earnestly. It’s a surprisingly meaty role, and showcases not only Vaughn’s comedic chops, but also his potential to convey depth in a character. And yet, somewhere between Swingers and now, Vaughn has settled. He’s found his niche in that realm as the carefree, free-associating pal. This persona has yielded some gems, most notably Old School and Wedding Crashers, and plenty of duds. What all of these movies — The Internship included — feel like is a platform for Vaughn to be himself. It’s as if he was born to bullshit and put a smile on your face at the same time. However that’s certainly not all he's meant to do, is it?
The Internship is a story about aging, how we cope with it and how we can overcome some of its limitations (both perceived and real). Vaughn and Wilson’s characters have lost their jobs — they’re salesmen — and they decide to apply for an internship at Google, believing that maybe they can catch up with the times and land a job at the tech company. They’re about twice as old as their competition, and many of the jokes play off this tension — they make references to Flash Dance, are unaware of Instagram and refer to being “online” as “on the line” — but it all feels a bit forced. The Internship lacks the rhythm and pacing that even the raunchiest comedies nail down, and so instead we jump from scene to scene, as if the entire movie is meant to showcase these select few moments. Sure, it’s fun to watch Vaughn and Wilson stumble through the rules of Quidditch during a Google team-building challenge, but it only repeats the same joke — these guys are old — without furthering the story. And there are far too many scenes with Vaughn and Wilson giving inspirational speeches littered with obscure references for any of them to carry significant emotional weight. However, the overall message should not be missed. The Internship believes that it’s never too late to start over, and Vaughn could certainly us some of this inspiration.
At one point in Swingers, Vaughn’s character tries to psyche up his friend by telling him not to be afraid of talking to women. “I don’t want you to be the guy in the PG-13 movie everybody’s really hoping makes it happen,” Vaughn says. “I want you to be like the guy in the rated-R movie, you know, the guy you’re not sure whether or not you like yet, you’re not sure where he’s coming from.” What Vaughn needs now is someone (a director?) or something (a script?), telling him that he’s better than what he’s been showing. And they need to mean it.
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