Isn’t it just so ironically hilarious that Vince
Vaughn and Owen Wilson come off as such unwanted guests in “The
Internship,” Shawn Levy’s divided-generations and generation-dividing
comedy? Not really. In the film, which for some reason co-stars Rose
Byrne, the “Wedding Crashers” duo play unemployed, overage cadets aboard
the Google mothership, trying to get jobs at America’s No. 1 place to
work (according to Fortune magazine). As any proctology patient will
attest, even the most unfunny experience has something to teach us. In
the case of “The Internship” it’s how truly polarized the generations
seem to be.
This is not an issue, as the movie would pretend,
that is simply about technology. It’s true that Vaughn and Wilson, as
recently dismissed purveyors of high-end wrist watches (granted, a
clever touch), are comically clueless about most everyday appliances as
they immerse themselves in Google culture and run up against people half
their age with twice their wits. This places them, among their fellow
“Nooglers” (“new Googlers,” in Google parlance, most of which possesses a
high degree of Googly-ness) beneath contempt, which is the place where
Vaughn and Wilson, as comics, prefer to function.
alliance they form with several other less-than-likely candidates
(played by, among others, newcomers Tiya Sircar, Josh Brener and Tobit
Raphael) is supposed to be about the wisdom of age meeting the raw
talent of youth, to their mutual benefit. In fact, the premise of the
movie is about the young and the old all vying for a limited number of
jobs, which is one of the things that makes the whole movie an allegory
for the current state of the U.S. economy. And profoundly unfunny.
doesn’t seem to get it. Neither do his two stars (Vaughn co-wrote the
screenplay). The conflicts in the film – in which teams of
computer-coding geniuses are pitted against each other, in a microcosm
of a “Hunger Games”-meets-Paul Ryan version of America – are pretty
upscale problems: The Google wannabes are all candidate with 140-plus
IQs and advanced degrees from MIT; they’re going to succeed, it might
just not be at Google. The implication that they represent their
generation at large is specious and might just tick off more discerning
members of the audience.
It will certainly tick off anyone who
reads the news, or has a memory about movies. The portrayal of real-life
corporations on the big screen has traditionally been rare, and
certainly not intended to assuage the stockholder. “The Social Network”
was no bouquet of roses to Facebook. Back in 1961, the old Billy
Wilder/James Cagney comedy “One, Two, Three” was, in part, about the
Coca-Colonization of the Third World. (Not entirely successful: In
1980’s “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” an errant Coke bottle creates tribal
unrest/existential discord, partly because corporate branding hasn’t yet
reached the Bushmen of the Kalahari). Alex Gibney’s “Enron: The
Smartest Guys in the Room” was a virtual indictment of corporations and
capitalism, per se.
“The Internship,” on the other hand, is a big
wet kiss to Google — the multi-billion-dollar U.S. tech company that
pays a 2.4 percent tax rate. That it has been, for four years running,
the best place in America to work (according to the annual Fortune
survey) adds insult to injury. Of course they can afford all the
amenities. They don’t pay taxes. In its privileged, entitled
cluelessness, “The Internship” is like a ride in Mitt Romney’s station
wagon, without the laughs.
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