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Google mirth The Internship'

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Vaughn-Wilson reunion never quite hits stride

When it comes to summer movies, most of the focus tends to be on the big-budget blockbusters. It's all about action sequences and special effects. Studios are looking to build and maintain franchises that's a lot of what the summer season has come to be about. The comedic offerings, on the other hand, tend to be hit-or-miss. 

'The Internship' aims to be a hit. It has two stars with comedic chops and a record of past success and one of the biggest companies in the world as its setting. There's a fair amount of potential here.

Unfortunately, the film never quite measures up.

Billy McMahon (Vince Vaughn, 'The Watch') and Nick Campbell (Owen Wilson, 'The Big Year') are watch salesmen who have just been told by their boss (John Goodman, 'The Hangover III') that their company is closing. Desperate for any kind of opportunity, Billy talks their way into an interview for an internship at Google.

Implausibly, the two manage to land spots alongside the multitude of talented college students spending the summer on the Google campus. The interns must divide themselves into teams for a summer-long competition; the winning team secures full-time employment at Google. However, Billy and Nick soon find that their age and obvious technical ineptitude leaves them on the outside looking in when it comes to team selection.

They wind up on a team of leftovers alongside wannabe-sexpot Neha (Tiya Sircar, 'The Domino Effect'), antisocial Stewart (Dylan O'Brien, TV's 'Teen Wolf') and Tiger-Mom-damaged Yo-Yo (Tobit Raphael in his film debut). Their leader Lyle (Josh Brener, TV's 'Glory Daze') is a rookie himself, with his own set of quirks and issues.

Of course, there's some real friction on the team at first the cynical kids not wanting to get dragged down by the dinosaurs but before you know it, Billy and Nick's can-do attitudes and relentless positivity win over their teammates. And, surprise! that sense of team spirit helps carry them into contention for the coveted Google jobs.

But can they overcome the rough waters that lie ahead? The competition is cutthroat and the rivalries are intense; can the power of salesmanship still carry weight in an online world? Can these two life veterans show that they have not yet become obsolete? Does experience still count for something in an ever-evolving workplace?

You can probably guess the answers to all of those questions.

In many ways, 'The Internship' plays out as little more than Google propaganda. It is put forth as a sort of tech Garden of Eden, with happy employees and a fun-filled work environment. It's all search engine sunshine and internet rainbows. No wonder the company signed off on this in some places, it almost plays like a recruitment film.

That's not to say that it isn't funny. Vaughn and Wilson proved that they have dynamic chemistry when they did 'Wedding Crashers' in 2005; that same easy relationship is on display here. Now, by no means am I saying that 'The Internship' is as funny or as good as that movie. However, there's no denying that the easy interplay between Vaughn's typical high-volume blustering and Wilson's inherent laid-back vibe is eminently watchable. They aren't doing anything new, but the script (co-written by Vaughn) never asks them to.

The rest of the cast is passable. The rest of the team basically exists to give Vaughn and Wilson's characters problems to fix. They're fine, but no one is particularly memorable. Max Minghella ('The Darkest Hour') is prototypically douche-y as the leader of a rival intern team he's nicely hateable while Rose Byrne ('The Place Beyond the Pines') is more or less wasted in a random romantic subplot involving Wilson's character.

'The Internship' exceeded my expectations perhaps damning with faint praise considering how low those expectations were, but still they were exceeded. Vaughn and Wilson embrace the fairly flimsy central conceit and let the power of their considerable shared charisma carry the day. It's a good move; the relationship between them proves a solid foundation on which the unstable story can rest. 

It's a frothy and fun - though ultimately forgettable movie. 'The Internship' is an agreeable way to spend a couple of hours, but not a lot more than that. It's enjoyable, but essentially empty.

3 out of 5

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