(M) Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne
When are the limits of product placement? With The Internship, Google pushes them.
When watch salesmen Billy and Nick lose their jobs because their industry becomes obsolete (no one wears watches anymore, they just look at their phones), Billy decides to go for a long shot and arranges for an interview for the two of them to enter an internship program with Google.
Despite their complete lack of computer knowledge they somehow manage to secure a position in an program, where they are thrown together with a team of misfits to compete against the other interns in a weeklong series of challenges in which the Nooglers (that’s new Googlers) must demonstrate their Googliness. At the end of the week only the best team earn jobs at Google.
There is the temptation to see The Internship as one, massive piece of product placement.
Throughout the picture we are told about all the wonderful products and services Google has to offer its consumers, with one character even going so far to say that she believes Google makes the world a better place. But Product placement tends to imply something more sneaky and subliminal – James Bond flashing his Omega watch while ordering a Heineken, the Men in Black wearing Ray Ban shades. That’s not what we are getting in The Internship, because Google is as central and essential to the film as any of its stars. Would the film have worked if it was any other tech company that Billy and Nick would have been equally out of place at? Not really. The film uses the established idea we already have of Google as “the best place in the world to work,” the computer nerd’s paradise on earth.
What saves this movie from feeling too much like an ad is that it has a heart. Billy and Nick are not only 20 years older than all of the other interns, but 20 years older than a lot of the Google staff running the program. This generation gap is the source of much of the film’s comedy (Billy’s continuous efforts to inspire his team through references to Flashdance), and also what gives the film that heart, with both generations have something to teach and something to learn from each other.
Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are not quite the box office draw they were eight years ago when the teamed up for Wedding Crashers, but they are still a really likeable duo with have an easy rapport, who working well off each other. So between them and a feel-good if generic storyline, The Internship musters just enough goodwill to win you over by the end, allowing you to look put aside the cynic inside you which feels like you’ve just watched a two hour Google ad disguised as entertainment.