Film review: ‘Frat Pack’ does what they do best in ‘The Internship’

Film review: ‘Frat Pack’ does what they do best in ‘The Internship’
Owen Wilson, left, and Vince Vaughn are salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital world in “The Internship.” Photo by Phil Bray

While “The Internship” is not without its color, heart, and zany pop cultural references, it gets lost in its crude humor at times and suffers from the occasional lack of attempt to infuse this “Wedding Crashers” reunion with its own flavor. 

Two salesmen, Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson), are left jobless following the termination of their wristwatch business, thanks to the digital age. In a desperate attempt to prove they are not outdated, they talk their way into a highly sought-after internship at Google, along with many college-aged applicants possessing brilliant minds.

However, getting into the Googleplex is the easy part. Now Billy and Nick must compete against a wave of tech-savvy graduate students determined to not only complete the internship, but also secure full-time positions at the company. Against all odds, the two of them set out to prove that the real meaning of reinvention is necessity.

Everything Google — apps, search engine, email — serves as a backdrop for the story, which isn’t too different from the one seen in “Wedding Crashers” eight years ago. The film could’ve been better if Vaughn and Wilson had decided to explore the possibilities of making something other than a comedy get-together. Despite the “been there, done that” feeling, they seem to be enjoying themselves (as evidenced by their strong chemistry) and so there’s no reason for us not to have fun, too.

Towards the middle of “The Internship” is where we experience a lull in the comedic flow. At a nightclub where Vaughn and Wilson take their Google teammates out for drinks, director Shawn Levy opts for vulgarity and crude jokes that threaten to delete the wit and charm of a pleasant good time. That particular sequence — loaded with booze and scantily clad women — plods along for one too many minutes and proves to be more distracting than organic. I’ve never known Shawn Levy to become lazy while making his projects, but this is proof enough.

On the plus side, I did enjoy the film’s clever use of pop culture references; the dialogue exchanged between the leads and their Google acquaintances will definitely click with geeks and nerds everywhere. Much of the humor in “The Internship” is derived from the contrast between the old-fashioned 1980s movie plotlines mentioned by Vaughn and Wilson and the more contemporary ones discussed by the Google interns.

Furthermore, while I can’t be 100 percent certain about what goes on at Google, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find the activities the interns participated in amusing.

The cast of “The Internship” works for the most part. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are very much in their element when they’re standing side by side, always having each other’s back to keep the outrageous jokes coming. If anyone can be called a scene-stealer, however, the first person that comes to mind would be Aasif Mandvi, who plays the stern but fair Mr. Chetty.

Josh Brener, sporting a boyish face and friendly enthusiasm, fits the cinematic description of a Google employee like a glove. The same goes for Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, and Tobit Raphael, all of whom have their fair share of moments as intern teammates.

Rose Byrne is wasted in the role as a love interest that doesn’t add much to the story; her interactions with Wilson are funny, but the film could’ve done well without her. As for Max Minghella, he’s about as charismatic as you’d expect any villain to be in a Frat Pack movie.

If you want to submit your application for “The Internship,” be my guest. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was a disappointment, but to call it an example of Vaughn and Wilson at their best would be a lie. Still, I suppose it’ll do for the time being, and if you’re looking to see the Frat Pack doing what they love to do, then this just might be your cup of tea.

MPAA rating: PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language.
Running time: 1 hour and 59 minutes
Playing: In general release

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