We’ve been through a lot with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson through the years. We laughed at them in Wedding Crashers, chuckled at Old School (though Owen was played by his brother Luke), and cried along with Marley and Me, in which Vaughn was disguised as a Labrador Retriever. We even forgave The Break-Up, because at least Vaughn was nailing his then-foxy costar Jennifer Aniston, and You, Me and Dupree, because though it caused no laughter whatsoever in theaters it at least led to a funny letter that Wilson wrote to Steely Dan after they accused him of ripping off a song title.
But…Fred Claus. Four Christmases. Couples Retreat. The Watch. Those Vaughn misadventures can’t be forgiven. As for Owen: Marmaduke. Hall Pass. How Do You Know. Now here’s another one for the anti-resume: The Internship. Here are five reasons it’s no Wedding Crashers.
1. Cool, resourceful guys are a lot more interesting than clueless dorks.
Again and again in The Internship, we see childhood pals Nick (Wilson) and Billy (Vaughn) falling upwards. This could be funny as a satire on how the undeserving can be amazingly successful, but that’s not what the movie is going for. It imagines that two idiots who fraudulently claim to be programming whizzes and physics majors could somehow convince the extremely smart people at Google to offer them internships.
When the two claim they’re online students at the University of Phoenix and call it the Harvard of the West, their interviewers go with it as though they didn’t have hundreds of Harvard of the East applicants begging them for gigs. Watching a gag that would never work in real life, though, simply alerts you to how dopey and Hollywoodized the conception of the movie is. In Wedding Crashers, the guys had a much more dead-on scheme: Being cute and charming at wedding receptions would allow them to meet cute, unsuspecting, slightly tipsy girls who might be in the mood for a romp.
But just as bad news doesn’t get better with age, bad lines don’t sound good just because you spew them at high velocity. Here Vaughn’s habit of sputtering nonsense is, as it was in The Watch, flustered and desperate rather than cool. It’s embarrassing. It’s like watching a guy with Tourette’s try to ask a girl out on a date. Weirdly enough, though, as fast as Vaughn’s tongue moves, the movie is really long and slow. Part of the reason: The Internship is formula-based and predictable, which means you always know where it’s going. But it also has a real problem keeping the action moving.
3. They’re too old.
Dudes, you’re in your forties.
The joke of Old School is that guys Vaughn’s age were way too ancient to get crazy with the young things — and that was ten years ago. You can’t be fratty forever. Recognizing this, the makers of The Internship, which was directed by Pink Panther hack Shawn Levy, don’t even bother to give either Wilson or Vaughn a love interest among the teens they hang out with as Google interns, because it would be seriously creepy to watch these guys flirt with women young enough to be their daughters. But that means the movie has only a half-hearted romantic sub-plot (Wilson’s character runs into a manager, played by Rose Byrne, who seems to be convinced by his argument that she’ll turn into an old maid if she doesn’t date him).
Moreover, the scenes where Nick and Billy take the rest of the team out to get lapdances in San Francisco ring false. Would young people really need these geezers to show them a good time?
4. Dumb sitcom stuff.
The movie blows a lot of time on silly stunts like having Wilson and Vaughn gallop around maniacally on broomsticks playing Quidditch, but worse than that is the movie’s increasing corniness as they help the teen students with their problems, coax them out of their shells, and generally get them started in life. But Google must hire the smartest and most arrogant kids in the world. They’d be much more likely to be like the nasty intern played by Max Minghella who tries to thwart Billy and Nick. Watching brilliant people face off would have been much more interesting than the hackneyed stuff in this one.
5. It isn’t funny, period.
Wilson and Vaughn have comic skills, and they have a lot of funny friends (such as Will Ferrell, who pops up as a creepy mattress salesman in a mildly amusing cameo that harks back to his hilarious scene in Wedding Crashers). They know what’s funny and what isn’t. And at every stage of the making of this movie, they must have known it was failing. They should have known better than to go ahead with it. This movie shouldn’t exist. And in a way, it won’t: Nobody will remember it.