There are two ways of looking at The Internship.
One is just to happily accept that the Wedding Crashers dudes are back, invading a Silicon Valley campus where a legion of pampered twentysomethings oversees a vast Internet empire.
Or, second, that Google - the search-engine behemoth that granted Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson access to its sun-splashed, landscaped, free-food, and free-bikes Mountain View, Calif., complex - is an evil empire, bent on insinuating itself into every aspect of our lives, even our knuckleheaded Hollywood comedies.
Talk about product placement! From the moment the lightbulb clicks on over the head of Vaughn's character, Billy - a watch salesman who, with his buddy, Nick (Wilson), has just been fired - the Google logo is everywhere. To be sure, it's there on Billy's computer screen as he searches for employment opportunities (typing: "jobs for people with few skills") and then hits on the idea of applying for the intern program at Google. But once Nick and Billy arrive at the Googleplex in Mountain View, it's like the company's brand is being burned into our skulls.
And who wouldn't want to work here, with its nap pods, playrooms, cafes, its teeming throng of smartphone-thumbing millennials who act as if they just got out of homeroom - in junior high?
"When did 20 begin to look like 12?" Nick wonders to Billy as they make their way through Google's swarm of worker bees.
Directed by Shawn Levy, of the Night at the Museum franchise, The Internship finds Vaughn and Wilson's hopelessly old-school, fortysomething doofuses thrown together with a team of misfit geek kids in a Hunger Games-like competition, where many will be eliminated and few will survive. (Speaking of franchises, there's even a Quidditch match, a comically earthbound version of the Hogwarts sport.)
The seemingly clueless Nick and Billy become improbable mentors, citing Flashdance and other '80s cultural benchmarks and taking their troupe - a sexually curious nerd girl (Tiya Sircar), a guy who never looks up from his cellphone (Dylan O'Brien), a high-IQ Asian with low social skills (Tobit Raphael), and their jive Google team leader (Josh Brener) - for a night on the town, culminating with tequila shots at a strip club. What better way to bond?
Vaughn and Wilson do the inseparable-comedy-duo thing that Hope and Crosby once perpetrated so successfully. Here, their shtick includes sharing the same bed, but not in a gay way (at least, not overtly). And anyway, The Internship boasts a romance between Wilson and Rose Byrne, playing an all-work-and-no-play Google exec who eventually succumbs to Nick's stalker-like courtship.
Byrne, Australian and bespectacled, is charming. And The Internship itself would be kind of charming, too, if this Google-recruitment film, this 119-minute commercial for Googliness, weren't so downright creepy.