Don’t ask why Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson), two forty-odd year old schlubs, are on the Google Campus, wandering into lectures on app development and sitting in on seminars on coding – they’re there because of a mixture of circumstance and contrived plotting. You see, they’ve just been laid off after twenty years as savvy salesmen, and the Google internship scheme seemed like their best bet for a new career. Now they’ve been thrown together with a group of misfits and must compete for a job at the internet behemoth. Unfortunately for their cohorts, these guys don’t know their RSS from their elbow.
In their bumbling charm, Billy and Nick are at times reminiscent of the good-sort heroes found in the sentimental films of Frank Capra, and there are flashes of Vaughn and Wilson’s slick, Wedding Crashers-style charisma throughout, but when the idiot schtick starts to grate, The Internship becomes more like Ernest Goes To Google, only with Jim Varney’s perpetual childishness replaced with man-child mid-life crises. But, it’s okay, they’re overflowing with trite life lessons for their team-mates and colleagues, including their one-size-fits-all solution for all problems: whether it be a guy’s nervousness around girls, a boy’s abusive relationship with his mother, or even a girl’s anxiety about sex, going to a pole-dancing club and getting hammered cures all ills.
Perhaps The Internship’s most baffling quality, though, is that, underneath all of its blatant pro-Google flag-waving (did you know the food in the Google canteen is free?), the film is based on the outmoded presumption that there is a generation gap between the clueless fortysomethings and the eager, digital-native twenty year olds that fill up Google’s recruitment programme. The wholly-absent founders of Google themselves, after all, are only a handful of years younger than Vaughn and Wilson, so Billy and Nick’s complete lack of web-smarts – which goes so far as to encompass a drawn-out joke where Nick uses the phrase ‘on-the-line’ instead of ‘online’ repeatedly – seems forced, resulting in an unconvincing, corny comedy that reads like a marriage between the Humour and Computing volumes in the ‘For Dummies’ series of how-to manuals - with a sickly amount of corporate shilling thrown in for good measure.