‘The Internship’ Review

Published 2 years ago by , Updated November 15th, 2014 at 12:33 am,

The Internship Vince Vaughn Owen Wilson The Internship Review

The Internship falls short of being a must-see comedy – let alone a thought-provoking opportunity for social commentary.

In The Internship, director Shawn Levy (Reel Steel) follows former businessmen Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson) who find their sales skills suddenly lacking in the wake of the digital age. After their employer shuts down the company, the pair struggle to find full-time work but successfully talk their way into highly coveted internships at Google. Unfortunately, limited positions are available at the Internet services powerhouse, so McMahon and Campbell must compete with teams of tech-savvy college students who are eager to get their careers off the ground.

However, as the aging second-profession interns form unexpected friendships and gain experience in the fast-paced world of Google, they come to realize the only way to standout amidst a crowd of online savants is to find a balance between old school business acumen and out-of-the-box digital savvy.

Sadly, the same attempt at updating traditional ideas for appreciation in the modern era doesn’t work as well for The Internship movie itself – especially since the story comes across as somewhat dated. Instead, the film is a derivative fish-out-of water setup with predictable buddy comedy plot beats – force fit into fast-paced Internet industry culture. The narrative and comedy offer few surprises, with a number of lowbrow and/or excessive moments (as well as heavy-handed life lesson attempts) that illicit more eye rolls than laughs or dramatic insight. The success of Vaughn and Wilson’s Wedding Crashers provides incentive for viewers to expect good things from The Internship, but it is actually the young cast (portraying the pair’s intern friends) that makes the movie forgivable instead of entirely forgettable.

The Internship Movie Vince Vaughn Owen Wilson The Internship Review

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in ‘The Internship’

As stated, the plot is a bare bones “new kid on the block” framework that adheres very closely to the tropes in other “underdog” and “outsider” storylines – full of the same ups and downs viewers will have seen ad nauseum in similar projects. The familiar developments of the story are only slightly freshened up by carefully managed Google brand synergy – which is a mixed bag of fun nods to the real life Googleplex compound and on-the-nose commentary about the company and its larger goals (which are awkwardly forced into the mix at ill-fitting moments). Google is well known for its non-traditional approach to employment and is a suitable setting for The Internship; that said, at times, the movie does a poor job of balancing the quirks of Google with worthwhile development in the main character journey.

In fact, it takes awhile for Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson) to even become likable protagonists – since the movie pigeonholes them early on as over-the-top (and even manipulative) underachievers. While it’ll be easy for viewers to sympathize with their sudden job loss, it takes a long time for McMahon and Campbell to actually become empathetic. From the moment of their introduction, The Internship positions the pair as clueless and self-absorbed – through forced and unfunny gags that fail to offer interesting character insight or worthwhile laughs. Still, as the story progresses, and the two characters interact with Google employees and fellow “Nooglers,” Levy eases up on cartoony jokes in favor of subtle and humorous character interactions that (though uninventive) can be entertaining and even endearing.

The Internship Cast Vince Vaughn Owen Wilson The Internship Review

Nooglers Yo-Yo, Stuart, Lyle, Neha, Billy, and Nick in ‘The Internship’

As mentioned, a cast of likable supporting characters elevates the otherwise formulaic comedy – delivering competent juxtapositions for Vaughn/Wilson and the college-aged intern friends. Google Executive Dana (Rose Byrne) and Intern Program Head Mr. Chetty (Aasif Mandvi) contribute adequate turns as key industry veterans driving the story, but it’s Nooglers Stuart (Dylan O’Brien) and Neha (Tiya Sircar) that provide the most interesting foils to the wearing Vaughn and Wilson dynamic, offering entertaining (and heartfelt) moments – even if their respective characters are based on thin cliches. Fellow team members Lyle (Josh Brener) and Yo-Yo Santos (Tobit Raphael) aren’t given quite as much to do, but in combination with the rest of the group, they help transition McMahon and Campbell from goofy clowns to thoughtful leaders.

Ultimately, that transition prevents the film from becoming a total throwaway. Despite a lot of questionable choices (including excessive appearances by Will Ferrell and Rob Riggle) and several abandoned plot threads, The Internship actually manages to pull most of its flailing ideas full circle – resulting in a trite and unsurprising but still competent finale. Yet, few of the movie’s larger messages about life, work, and relationships will stick with audiences post-viewing – as most of them are either too specific for mainstream application or too heavy-handed to genuinely inspire. It’s clear that The Internship was striving to be more profound than the final onscreen film suggests – meaning that, in spite of its intent, potential moviegoers will have to settle for an blend of semi-amusing and outright flat scenes instead of a balanced comedy that is equal parts heart and humor.

Owen Wilson Vince Vaughn The Internship The Internship Review

Nick Campbell and Billy McMahon in ‘The Internship’

Despite efforts to say something interesting about life in the digital age, The Internship falls short of being a must-see comedy – let alone a thought-provoking opportunity for social commentary. Moviegoers who enjoy Vaughn and Wilson (or work in the tech industry) might find more enjoyment in the film than casual viewers, but the movie is mostly a formulaic buddy comedy masking familiar plot beats with flashy digital age one-liners. It’s a harmless experience with a handful of laughs and a batch of likable young actors but The Internship fails to deliver the innovation and creativity necessary for “Googliness.” Instead, The Internship is more akin to Yahoo! – a functional Plan B when nothing better is available.

If you’re still on the fence about The Internship, check out the trailer below:


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The Internship runs 119 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language. Now playing in theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. Did you guys stop doing */5 ratings or does it not show up on the mobile version of the site?

    • It doesn’t show in the mobile version.

      This got 2/5.

    • It may not be showing up in the mobile version – we’ve updated the template with the addition of words (in this case “okay” to go along with the review scores). That might have changed a setting on the mobile version.

      I’ll look into it.

      • It’s not there. However, you can find it. Like all stories, the reviews are always tagged at the bottom of the page. The rating’s one of the tags.

        For example, this review would have a tag of “2.5 Movies.” That’s how I always find the rating on the mobile site.

  2. I don’t understand how 2/5 is an okay movie. 2/5 in my books is a bad movie. And I’m expecting it is in most others.

    • We use the full scale – so we want to save .5, 1, and 1.5/5 for really bad movies. What’s the point of having a 10 point scale if you don’t even use 3/10 of the scale?

      • Eh, makes sense.

    • For myself, I say:
      1 star: awful
      2: good
      3: average-not bad, but not great
      4: excellent
      5: outstanding

      • Isn’t Average – Not Bad but Not Great pretty much “Good” though?

        That’s why for 2/5 we use “Okay” which is a little less enthusiastic than “Good.” We really do try and use the full scale, not judging your scale or anything, but 4/5 of it fall into “Good or Better” with only 1/5 being left for anything that less than Good.

        Seriously, not calling you out – I think it’s interesting how different people use the scale (given the amount of confusion around review scores).

  3. 2/5 stars?

    I don’t know… sounds too gentle to me.

    I have found the last several reviews to be too gentle. I caught Now You See Me, After Earth, and the Hangover (2,3, and 3 1/2 stars) and they were polar opposite films in terms of quality.

    With those 3 films alone, you’re looking at 1 1/2, 2 1/2, and 4.

    I know reviews are subjective, but I don’t think you guys are critical enough. Rarely do I see a rating less than 2 or more than 4 here. Rarely

    • Like you say, reviews are subjective – and our approach has always been to score movies based on the genre, etc. So, in this case, it’s an “Okay” but not great comedy. The goal here is not to be inline with everyone else or a general consensus, it’s to put our thoughts on a film out there.

      I can’t speak to all the films you listed. After Earth was the only one I personally reviewed – and I stand by that 2/5 score. I don’t think it was deserving of OUR 1/5 or .5/5 score. You don’t see a lot of .5/5′s or 1/5′s here – just like you don’t see a ton of 4.5/5′s or 5/5′s. We try and use the full scale but outliers on both ends are certainly more rare. Keep in mind too that if you look at Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 33% currently – but most of the “rotten” scores are still 2/4 or 2/5 scores – not 1/5′s.

      As stated clearly in the review, I’m not recommending the film – and it will get a “rotten” score when I put it on RT. So, really, this one is not a great example for the argument that we’re too soft.

      That all said, the writing in the review is where we make our argument for and against a movie, the scores are really just ancillary to us – and frankly, in my opinion, distract from the actual discussion of the review and what it asserts.

      • Fair argument. I understand what you are saying.

        I agree with your assessment where you list the good and bad elements when it comes to the film. It’s good to give an objective opinion in the sense that your audience (review readers) is broad and you want to incorporate enough elements in your review to give them a good launching pad.

        I guess my only real complaint was that as a moviegoer, your review doesn’t help me in the sense that, I find it difficult to figure out which film I should give a serious look into or which films I will wait until rental release.
        As a reader, I got it, you didn’t really like the film but found enough points and moments to lighten up the dullness, but it’s arbitrary. It’s great that you are being fair and so forth, but I guess I am just looking for a little soul… a little character. You’ve already got me reading. I am willing to take a little ‘opinion’. I want a little more zest.

        It sucked! I would never suggest this film.
        It was great! Maybe I’m crazy, but so be it.

        Just my 2 cents.

        • I hear what you’re saying but in this case, the movie is just in a middle ground where “okay” is the best way of communicating the quality of the film. If I had been more “zesty” on either end of the spectrum (“it sucked” or “it’s great”), I think it would have been a confusing (and disingenuous) read.

          In this case, the film doesn’t really make a strong impression either way – it’s just “okay.” Not good, not bad.

  4. I really wonder if the people who criticized Act of Valor as an advert for the military would criticize this movie for being an advert for google… Probably not…

    • Act Of Valor and Zero Dark Thirty were ads for the military and I’d definitely put this and any other movie that focuses too much on one particular product or brand as a blatant commercial for it.

      If it’s done right, I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s just that I haven’t seen a movie that steps away from “blatant product placement” and becomes a point of interest and further study into whatever is being shown predominantly.

      For instance, I’m a huge lifelong fan of Metallica but their Through The Never IMAX movie in October will still be just a concert movie with a bit of a narrative added to it as an extra flavour and only seen by those who are already fans of the band or those who may get sucked into the trailers closer to release and decide to give it a shot.

      Otherwise, their Some Kinf Of Monster documentary from 2003 is less of a product placement due to it starting out as a fans-only look into the making of an album and then descending into a general “what happens when a world popular juggernaut of a band comes close to the brink of splitting for good?”, which is of interest to anyone who likes music because we as fans have never seen the inner workings before and only read the headlines once the decision has been made to part ways as a band.

      Anyway, as for this review, I’d agree with it. Haven’t seen it myself, won’t plan to either but that’s the problem with a lot of comedies the past decade and a half. They’re mostly just “ok” with not many standing out as genuinely funny (in fact, other than Shrek, I really can’t think of any).

  5. funny thing is i was gonna see the purge tonight but it wasn’t playing so i decided to go and watch this and i’ll give 3 stars
    I still would have rather seen the purge

    • You probably will see The Purge if moviegoers get so angry at this movie that they decide to go on a crime-ridden rampage to get their money back if this review is anything to go by.

  6. Sorry but before even starting the review, that picture makes Vince Vaughn look like an overly Botoxed Billy Crystal and Owen Wilson is looking enormous. Anyway, time to read that review…

  7. I find it hard to cast a low ball vote for a movie when everyone in my family is in stitches through most of the movie. Maybe the critics’ expectations were out of sync with the goals of the movie – or they didn’t understand the jokes? Definitely a 4/5 for making me laugh.

  8. Why not call this Wedding Crashers 2 and get it over with?