The 400-Word Review: The Internship
By Sean Collier
June 9, 2013
I know that the corporate culture at Google, the world's most coveted workplace, is awesome. I'm not convinced that Google Offices: The Movie, more commonly referred to as The Internship, is an actual premise. It's more like a bad pitch meeting come to life.
See, The Internship is not just a movie set within Google's impossibly cool Mountain View, CA offices. It's a work of adaptation; just like Pirates of the Caribbean is a movie based on a theme-park ride and Battleship is a movie based on a board game, The Internship is a movie based on an office.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, reunited after Wedding Crashers, are Billy and Nick, aging salesmen looking for work. Billy is convinced that they can use their slimy charm to sneak their way into gigs with Google. The tech giant is holding a summer-long competition between teams of interns, and the victors will be given full-time jobs. Apparently the tech giant hires the same way “Survivor” picks a winner.
What follows is a series of uninspired scenes wherein Billy and Nick learn the expected lessons about working together, overcoming adversity and believing in themselves. None of it is particularly funny. Contrary to the belief of comic actors like Vaughn and Will Ferrell — who appears in a small role — comedy is not based on funny dudes talking. Sometimes, you actually need to come up with funny situations. There are none to be found here.
What appears instead is stereotyping and cruelty. An overweight intern is repeatedly mocked for laughs; a young Asian is portrayed as the unstable, maldeveloped output of a loveless tiger mother. The worst treatment, unsurprisingly, is reserved for women. Only two have more than a moment of screentime. One (Tiya Sircar) is a brilliant young Indian-American programmer given exactly one defining characteristic: she's a virgin who acts like she's sex-obsessed. In her first scene of any substance, she invites Billy and Nick for bondage play. That's the vision of women that The Internship offers: even if they're brilliant, successful and beautiful, they're really just here to sleep with the men. Quickly.
The shocking thing is that forward-thinking Google, who clearly worked closely with the filmmakers (a laundry list of Google products and services are highlighted, and several scenes amount to glorified Google sales pitches) would go along with the project.
Maybe they weren't paying attention. No one else was.
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark