When Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson crashed weddings with such crazy success in 2005, they wanted to get laid. Older and not particularly wiser in “The Internship,” the guys now want to get jobs.
That’s funny. Unfortunately, the comedy is linked to some new-age nonsense about old-school guys finally catching up with the Internet age. It’s a one-liner forged into a two-hour joke.
At stake is a much-coveted summer internship at Google that could lead to a full-time gig. This sets up a fish-out-water tale with the 40-something goofballs essentially thrown into a school ruled by young nerd geniuses.
Like high school, there are cliques. But at Google, IQ is the cool factor and the team sports usually involve math.
The plot follows a familiar path — old ways collide with the new world, battle lines are drawn and lessons learned by all.
Case in point: Nick and Billy, Wilson and Vaughn, respectively, discover that the expression is “online” not “on the line.” A joke that will make anyone under 100 groan.
On the other side of the cultural exchange, the brainiacs learn how to do shots, approach girls and appreciate the Golden Gate Bridge.
As all that suggests, the movie is not exactly a laugh riot. But its comedy is amiable enough — and surprisingly clean.
Vaughn and Jared Stern, who wrote “The Watch” with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, have turned in a screenplay light on salty language. Shawn Levy, the man behind the family-friendly antics of the various “Night at the Museums,” directs. And with the exception of a trip to a local strip club, one kid’s first lap dance and a Will Ferrell cameo, there’s not much in the way of sexual references either. There are, however, many heart-to-hearts with Nick and Billy in the role of stand-up guys, almost dad-like in the way they treat the kids.
Raunchy or not, naughty or nice, with Vaughn and Wilson, it’s never so much what is said, but how they say it. If you liked the relationship and the repartee they had going in “Wedding Crashers,” that chemistry is very much there defining and driving “The Internship,” just dialed down a few notches.
It is apropos that the film opens with a sales pitch, since “The Internship” can seem like a Hollywood-sign-sized ad for the supremacy and humanity of Google. But we’re not on the candy-colored Google campus just yet.
First Nick and Billy psych themselves up to make a big sale. That involves singing along to a mix tape that features Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic” — you know, “An old man turned 98, he won the lottery and died the next day.”
These guys do sales the old-fashioned way, making their pitch face to face, over dinner. John Goodman is their not-so-horrible boss, but it’s the client who tells them their company has folded.
Billy and Nick are not merely out of a sale, they are out of a job — and worse, in their mid-40s, out of luck in the modern marketplace.
Nick quickly gets pressed into working for his sister’s boyfriend, an uncredited Ferrell portraying a mattress salesman. A slight variation of the actor’s scuzzy Chazz in “Wedding Crashers,” he takes care of the movie’s innuendoes.
Inspiration for a better, brighter future comes from Billy. After all of his Google searches lead him to dead-end jobs, he — imagine a light bulb here — Googles Google. The Google landing page with its very familiar logo, gets virtually all of the movie’s beauty shots.
A brief Skype interview between the guys and Google recruiters sets the very low bar for how dated the jokes will be about Billy’s lack of social-networking savvy. But their age will help the high-tech giant’s diversity mix, so Nick and Billy are soon on their way to San Francisco and the company’s incredible main campus.
Between the free coffee, fruit and bagels, the campus bikes and the nap-pods, I wanted to fill out an application.
Vaughn’s Billy is once again able to fast talk his way into and out of more jams than most people have in a lifetime — his stint on the Google help line is one of the film’s finer moments.
Wilson lays on his aw-shucks boyish charm, and once again is in line to get the good girl. She’s an A-type Google exec played by Rose Byrne, who actually uses her Aussie accent for a change, although the part is one-dimensional, requiring her to be paperdoll-pretty — no real acting required.
Now to those lessons learned. If “The Internship” taught me anything, it is not about aging in the new age, but that Google, not Disneyland, is the happiest place on Earth. For Vaughn and Wilson it should be about coming up with new, really new material before they take their show on the road again.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language
Running time: 2 hours
Playing: In general release