Combine elements of nerd underdogs in “Dodgeball” and the faking-it buddy comedy of “The Wedding Crashers,” and you get the box office pitch of “The Internship,” a formulaic story starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
This is the funnymen's first pairing since “The Wedding Crashers,” a popular and much more lewd buddy comedy that was a hit in 2005. The underdog to root for that Vaughn played in “Dodgeball” is also back, complete with the moment of crisis when he thinks he's let everyone down and deserves his fate.
As if a comedy would ever end that way.
This time Vaughn and Wilson are Billy and Nick, salesmen outsourced by the digital age. Not only are luxury wristwatches a hard sell, their company is going out of business.
“Face it,” their unsympathetic boss (John Goodman) tells them, “you're grinders, foot soldiers. Where you're going, you've already been.”
Meaning: the bottom.
In desperation, Billy stumbles on an internship program at Google. The fact that they're 40-something and know nothing about computer coding or high tech? Forget it. They've faked their way through tougher moments.
So you get the outrageous online interview, the wince-inducing orientation to the Google campus, the condescension on all sides by tech-savvy kids who don't want to be on their team competing for Google jobs, and the actual competition once a team of losers and misfits has formed to be sneered at by the snobby villain (Max Minghella) expecting to win.
Oh, and two or three skirts to chase for guys both young and old. Google vet Dana (Rose Byrne) is looking good to Nick.
Humiliation? Check. Underdogs? Check. Fish out of water? Check. This should be funny, right?
Well, sometimes it is. Sometimes it just should be. The inspirational preaching gets old. But Wilson's shaggy-dog likability is still there, and Vaughn's fast-talking schmoozer you've seen before is back.
The geezers can teach the misfit team's tech geeks a little about life, personal relationships and teamwork, and the kids can help the old guys soak up a little bit of Googleness amid the high-tech campus' free food bars, sleep pods and Quidditch competitions.
Josh Brener, Dylan O' Brien, Tobit Raphael and Tiya Sircar bring fresh-faced appeal to the proceedings as the young geeks (Raphael is the standout), and Josh Gad (“Book of Mormon”) has a fun cameo.
But you will know where this is going long before it gets there. Whether the journey is funny enough depends on your particular sense of humor. For me, Vaughn and Wilson need to stretch a bit as actors. They're getting old, in more ways than one.
Contact the writer:
IF YOU GO:
Quality: Two and a half stars (out of four)
Director: Shawn Levy
Stars: Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Rose Byrne, Dylan O'Brien, John Goodman
Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, crude humor, partying, language
Running time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Theaters: Aksarben, Bluffs 17, Midtown, Regal, 20 Grand, Westroads, Village Pointe, Oakview, Twin Creek