Perhaps in a bid to prove that monolithic digital corporations have a sense of humour after all (as well as not being evil), Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn team up for the first time since their hugely enjoyable romp in The Wedding Crashers for this comedy about two ageing eejits thrown into the deep end at Google’s fabled San Francisco HQ.
They play Nick and Billy, two wristwatch salesmen outpaced by the digital age (nobody wears a watch these days, you see - they check their phones!). The two likeable ordinary Joes are slam-dunked by the exponential rise of sexy tech and cast adrift until somehow they talk themselves into an internship at Google.
Here, they must take part in "mental Hunger Games" (one of the precious few good lines in this flick) to land a job after a trial period that makes The Krypton Factor and Only Connect look like Family Fortunes. Naturally they end up on a dweeb team which includes an emotionally-crippled blue-facer, a Korean kid who is terrorised by his Tiger mother, a team leader who compensates for his lack of cool by communicating in agonising hipspeak, and a sexy geek girl who is actually all innocent under her talk of kinky Star Wars cos-play nights.
What follows is a comedy of error 414s as our interns wear silly hats and get to be called Noogles, a form of psychological hazing in the antiseptic brains trust that is Google. They also take part in a series of tests including writing reams of computer code and taking part in, God help us, a Quidditch match. Not quite the knockabout fun of Vaughn’s turn in Dodgeball so.
Punch in a hard-as-string-theory boss, a workaholic babe played by a dull Rose Byrne, and a rival team of bullies led by Anthony Minghella’s son Max, and it really does look like the script was uploaded by committee using Google Chrome and the latest algorithm.
Directed by Shawn Levy, the man behind Night at the Museum and Date Night, the initial dopey humour is soon blotted out with a flurry of right clicks to the heart. It does make some nice points about the tyranny of online life but in the end, The Internship seems overly awed by the almighty G.
Wilson and Vaughn are a likeable pairing and there are a few goofy laughs but if you think the web giant already has a creepy omnipotence, this won’t change your mind; it’s a two-hour ad for Google. Worse, it’s a two-hour ad for Google doing Glee with some Big Bang Theory protons crow-barred in.