No results found for comedy search in ‘The Internship’

Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn star in "The Internship."
June 16, 2013

Like a search engine behind an impenetrable parental-block firewall, “The Internship” is a comedy that holds back every time it should be giving us access to something much more raunchy and wrong.

That is key for leads Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, who last left us at the altar in 2006 with “The Wedding Crashers.”

I realize Vaughn's shtick is not everyone's cup of tea. Spitting out words like a rubber-band ball uncoiling, he can grate on many audience members' nerves. But, given the right vehicle, I find him to be frequently amusing and someone who’d you welcome to a night on the town. Unfortunately for Vaughn, those “right vehicles” seldom come his way. His last few films (“The Watch,” “The Dilemma,” “Couples Retreat,” “Four Christmases”) have been borderline unwatchable. So the fact that he penned this one himself gave hope that he would open the gate and let himself loose.

“The Internship” plants him and Wilson as Billy and Nick, two 40-something salesmen who find their days of peddling watches have come to a screeching halt and are forced to make some real-life decisions about their future. Instead of another dead-end sales gig, they opt for what appears to be the Shangri-La of careers, in this newfangled thing called "the Internet,” specifically a little web-browser company called Google.

I will take but a moment to address some of the flak the film has received for being essentially a two-hour commercial.

It is a sloppy French kiss to the search-engine giant, but the company is so enmeshed in our lives, in our vernacular, that it is no longer just a business, it’s a verb, so get over it. This will obviously give the film even more limited shelf life, as we all know technology loves its bright, shiny things to replace what was soooooo last year (imagine this being made just five years ago and set in the magical world of MySpace! Or the limitless possibilities of Netscape!).

Regardless, the setup of Vaughn as an old-school salesman thrust into the world of technology does have potential, but when left in the hands of hack director Shawn Levy (seriously, take a look at this guy’s list of cardboard-bland flicks: “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “The Pink Panther” reboot, “Date Night”), it’s as plain as Google’s homepage.

The rest of the film uploads the “Bad News Bears” Operating System, Version 8.0. Billy and Nick get teamed with the young misfit dorks with various disadvantages that they will undoubtedly learn to overcome before the final frame. The trouble with this it’s so hopelessly safe and sterile that all the raunch and raucousness from Vaughn and Wilson earned from “Wedding Crashers” is drained dry. Even a team-bonding experience at a strip club happens at the only fully clothed strip club in all of California.

Characters pop up, seemingly integral to the plot, only to vanish altogether (Billy’s girlfriend has an extended speech about always being promised a trip to Spain, and is never heard from nor referenced again); pop-culture references are rather dated, cheap and humorless, unless of course you find multiple shout-outs to “Flashdance” hilarious; and would it have killed them to have just one black intern in the entire flick? As colorful as Google’s logo is, black is one color “The Internship” leaves out of its palette.

It’s just one of many items missing in this “Internship.” Do a search for “comedy” in it, and you will sadly get “no results found.”

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