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Friday, 12 July 2013

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - The Internship

Directed by: Shawn Levy

Produced by: Vince Vaughan
Shawn Levy

Screenplay by: Vince Vaughan
Jared Stern

Story by: Vince Vaughan

Starring: Vince Vaughan
Owen Wilson
Rose Byrne
Max Minghella
Joanna Garcia
John Goodman
Dylan O'Brien
Jessica Szohr

Music by: Christophe Beck

Cinematography by: Jonathan Brown

Editing by: Dean Zimmerman

Studio(s): Regency Enterprises
Wild West Picture Show Productions
21 Laps Entertainment
Dune Entertainment

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Release date(s): June 7, 2013 (United States)
July 4, 2013 (United Kingdom)

Running time: 119 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Production budget: $58 million

Box office revenue (as of publication): $63, 250, 984

Rightio, it's the twelfth of July, which means in my country either batten down the hatches like there's an ongoing game of Nazi Zombies or get out there and join Lord Summerisle dancing around various flaming effigies. I'm open-minded enough to say let people celebrate in their own way, but for me, this means good weather out the back with a cold one, a review or two, and a bit of gardening getting done.  Even still, with Belfast being put on hold for a day or two (Pacific Rim had to open today of all days!), I'll be putting out a few reviews. I've got This Is The End, Man Of Steel and The Act Of Killing on the way for definite, and hopefully I'll get some more done, as WWE Money In The Bank is this weekend, I'm heading to London on Thursday, have my Scout troop on camp at the end of the month and I'll be working most of August, so, although it may a bit more sporadic in terms of reviewing, I'll do my best, and you do your best to keep your eyes posted!

Okay, preamable ramble done, let's get crackin' with The Internship. The second collaboration between actors Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson after 2005's Wedding Crashers, the film has already been the source of much ridicule, for one as a bloated advertisement for Google, and also as a poorly timed release, both given the ubiquitousness of the Internet/Google so it's not a hip new comedy and that this is the kind of comedy that would have been done in the early-to-mid 2000's. This was parodied to brilliance in a great video by The Onion entitled 'The Internship' Poised To Be The Biggest Comedy Of 2005. The film is directed by Shawn Levy, who has a bit of a mixed bag of tricks, but was responsible for the wholly underrated, wholly overlooked and wholly entertaining 2011 Hugh Jackman pic, Real Steel. Anyone who can make a gem like that deserves to be given a chance, no matter how terrible their latest movie looks. In The Internship, Billy McMahon (Vaughan) and Nick Campbell (Wilson) lose their jobs as watch salesmen when their employer goes out of business (it being another of those post-2008 'frighteningly relevant' economic crisis plot devices!). Billy, unbeknownst to Nick, decides to apply for an internship, enrolling the two of them for prospective employment at Google, for which they are accepted due to their unorthodoxy. As you might guess, I went in with low expectations, so, let's see how things unfolded.

Starting with the good (believe me, there is), I must say that I went into the film with all that excess baggage and then some, thinking that this was going to be a thoroughly noxious two hours. However, despite this, I surprised myself and my good pal over at Danland Movies when about half an hour in we concluded that we both were enjoying the film. It's one of the strangest experiences I've had at the cinema, in that I walked out kind of shell-shocked at just how much I enjoyed it. I understand it's essentially a two-hour advertisement for Google and is at minimum five years too late in terms of the basil exposition set-up stuff, but I did enjoy the film. While Owen Wilson is reliable, Vince Vaughan is the real surprise, given that his presence onscreen is usually the harbinger for comedic desecration. It's obvious that there is a sort of self-awareness given that Vaughan is acting here as a guy whose speciality is sales, and the good thing about this is that oftentimes the script works around Vaughan just gibbering on, talking complete bullshit, which is what he does very well. Also, as far as an onscreen duo, Vaughan and Wilson have great chemistry, which does lead me to wonder as to why they haven't worked together more often. As far as the script is concerned, I know it isn't chopped liver (given that I don't eat meat, that's probably lost on me, but you get the point), but there are some well-written set pieces and dialogue. It's obviously outdated humour, but the interview segment with Vaughan and Wilson struggling to get to grips with videoconferencing is a standout moment, especially given how terrifying Vince Vaughan looks in close-up with the shot being from the perspective of the computer's webcam. The dialogue too, with the two messing up now-ubiquitous phrases and their obviously amateur approach to things despite pretending to be more experience and mature than their younger fellow interns is rather funny. On a personal note, although I'm very much "on the line" (hence my chosen format for reviewing), I am in many ways a technological luddite, so I did find their struggles endearing. Furthermore, it is also a film that is not afraid to be self-deprecating, Vaughan in particular being on the receiving end of numerous jokes about his desire to hog the free workplace puddings. Finally, although he has a mixed bag at times, Shawn Levy once again proves that he is, when working with the correct material, a director who can direct well and deliver an entertaining movie. His Real Steel became the namesake for my Most Overlooked Film in my annual awards, and his latest here might be early shoe-in for the win come next award season.

However much I have talked well of this film, especially given how pleasantly surprised I was, I'm still willing to acknowledge that it's a movie that does have a share of flaws. The script by Vaughan and Jared Stern has some great stuff, but it is also highly predictable (block A fits into the space A part of the Early Learning Centre toy), going in places we have seen done a thousand times before (literally, in my case!). Also, while the first two acts are uniformly solid, the third act does lag seriously and tries to put in this false twist in the tail that things might not actually turn out as well as they should so as to create some dramatic tension. As such, not only is it a poor third act, it also adds significantly to the seriously bloated two-hour running time. Another thing that doesn't help this third act problem is the utterly saccharine score by Christophe Beck. A regular thorn in my side, this the second film in as many months I've had to see with this dribblesome murder-by-numbers bore compose a film, and once again, he fails with flying colours. You've heard the old adage "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all," right? Well, it applies to music as well. My final issue is that as a whole, the film, while good, does not aspire to be anything great, and the filmmakers seem content just to let this play second fiddle to great contemporary comedies such as Rango, The Artist, Toy Story 3, Cemetery Junction and I Love You Phillip Morris. 

Despite my feelings that the script was predictable, that the third act was significantly weaker than the first two, that it has a saccharine score by Christophe Beck and that it's content settling for second best, The Internship is a better comedy than I could have possibly hoped for. Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson have great onscreen chemistry, and there are some finely written set-pieces, with the videoconference job interview being a highlight (Will Ferrell also makes a welcome and suitably shameless cameo), and director Shawn Levy proves that with a decent enough script and cast to work with that he can efficiently make an entertaining movie. Although it's nothing special, it's far better than anything you'd expect it to be, and I left the cinema grinning like a cheshire cat knowing that I'd enjoyed a good comedy.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.7/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis (Still) hot

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