By Will Ashton
With the over-flux of raunchy, R-rated comedies being released by Hollywood these days, it’s kind of charming to see a comedy like The Internship made under its PG-13 banner.
It’s hard to believe that, at one time, only about eight or so years ago, PG-13 comedies were still kings of the box office. Comedies like Dodgeball and Anchorman were still being released by studios, and they tried hard not to push the boundaries too far into R-rated territories. Now, these days, studios try everything they can do to ensure their comedies are R-rated. It’s strange how fast the world can change, isn’t it?
So, in this way, The Internship is like a blast from the recent past. There’s something simple and likeable about its appropriate comedy. Yet, at the same time, there’s something tame about it too. Having previously starred together in Wedding Crashers in 2005, a comedy that has helped set the trend for what comedies are today, it’s a little odd to see them together in a comedy as safe as this.
Over-the-hill salesmen Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson), after learning the hard way that their watch selling company has gone downhill, struggle to find replacement jobs, due to their lack of any understanding of technology. Despite this, however, Billy is able to enroll both Nick and himself into an internship with Google. Amongst peers half their age, Billy and Nick use their sales and life know-how with the kids technological smarts, and, together, help each work towards their dream jobs in the search engine company.
While I appreciate seeing a comedy these days not lazily relying on yelling the f-bomb during every other sentence, the sad reality of The Internship is that, as a film, it refuses to work against any predictable cliches. And, as a comedy, it never becomes anything more than amusing.
Even as it best, it feels like a CBS sitcom. All the jokes and set-ups are both predictable and overly tame. While none of the jokes really land, the one factor that keeps this film both watchable and painless is the returning chemistry between Wilson and Vaughn. In addition to its solid script, what really elevated Wedding Crashers was Wilson-Vaughn’s strong chemistry. This script, sadly, offers the duo no favors. But that’s not to say that the two don’t try.
He may play the same exact character in every film that he is in, but Vaughn has a knack for making mountain out of an ant hill. His fast-talking, hit-and-miss comedy style still works, if mildly, and thankfully saves a couple scenes in the film from completely nosediving. Forewarning, it’s definitely growing old, Vaughn. But there’s still something oddly charming about it as well.
Much like Vaughn, there is a mild charm to be had with The Internship. It’s virtually harmless from beginning-to-end, and, as a result, this will be enough to win some less-demanding audience members over. Director Shawn Levy (Date Night, Night at the Museum) clearly knows how to churn that running mill, but tolerable charm doesn’t equal success at the end of the day.
Sadly, this script, co-written by Vaughn and Jared Stern (The Watch), leaves the actors working with scraps. In short, despite some amusing moments throughout, there are simply not many laughs to be had in The Internship. Plain and simple.
If it seems like I don’t really have a lot to say about The Internship, or if I’m just simply repeating myself, that’s because there’s simply not very much to the film. It’s simply a middle-of-the-road, mediocre comedy. After The Hangover Part III and this, this summer really needs a good comedy. Hopefully This is the End will bring it.