By Claudia Puig
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson may be the worst interns since Monica Lewinsky.
These middle-aged guys don't just lack tech savvy, they're pretty much impervious to the digital age. They can't figure out how webcams work and describe surfing the Web as being "on the line." It's hard to imagine how they found their way to Google headquarters for their internships - certainly not with a GPS.
They're clueless, and not particularly funny, in the Shawn Levy-directed comedyThe Internship(** out of four; rated PG-13; opens Thursday in select cities and Friday nationwide), a tale about a pair of fortysomething guys who lose their jobs and take unpaid internships at the Silicon Valley search engine conglomerate.
While Vaughn and Wilson were hilarious in 2005's Wedding Crashers,those expecting this to be Google Crashersare in for a rude awakening.The Internshipis closer toDude, Where's My Job?
Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) sell pricey wristwatches. They learn that the company they work for has gone out of business from a client they're wining and dining. Their boss (John Goodman) runs a rinky-dink operation and they appear to be the only salesmen. So, how is it that a random customer knows the company has gone bust, but its two main employees are gob-smacked?
Rather than looking for new sales jobs, Billy decides they should take unpaid internships in a field they know nothing about.
Of course, they're the ages of most of the other interns' parents, a fact that is pointed out to them incessantly. "In a world of excellence, old and unexceptional qualifies as diversity," they're told by a snooty young intern.
Vaughn's charm serves him sporadically (he also co-wrote the script) and Wilson is blandly affable. But sometimes their garrulous riffing is just plain annoying.
"You're saying a lot of words really fast that don't mean anything," one of their fellow interns accurately snarls.
Where the movie trips up most is in its dogged desire to impart life lessons. Wisdom intoned by a pair of directionless ne'er-do-wells to brilliant tech savants hardly seems useful. When those motivational moments are intended as jokes - as in Billy's impassioned reference toFlashdance- the device can be funny. But when the guys try to earnestly convey instruction from the school of hard knocks, it's as corny as that sounds.
Stereotypes abound, including the requisite nerdy Asian boy bossed around by his tiger mother. When Billy dabbles in selling motorized scooters at a retirement home, a sequence involving a pair of randy old ladies is far more cringe-inducing than humorous.
The term Google is manipulated for laughs - employees are judged for their degree of "Googliness" and those who've recently joined the company are "Nooglers." It's so cloying it could be used in an ad for Bing.
Stay home and Google "good movies" rather than waste time on this going-nowhere Internship.