Blu-ray Review: The Internship

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The rather sad little comedy The Internship got buried this past summer, partly because it feels like such a warmed-over retread (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson acting exactly the same as they did eight years ago in The Wedding Crashers) and partly because it plays like propaganda for Google. We all use Google, but there’s something mildly offensive (even, perhaps, to the most staunchly pro-capitalism, pro-corporation among us) about being force-fed its supposed world-changing greatness for two hours.

Before they become middle-aged interns at Google, Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are informed by a client, not by their boss, that the company for which they sell designer watches has folded. There are more than a few chuckles during this first act, especially when Nick goes to work at a mattress store (Will Ferrell kills in a brief cameo as the store manager). But once these fast-talking charmers find themselves amongst a bunch of super-educated, 20something college kids on the Google campus, The Internship settles into a deathly predictable, formulaic rhythm. The big joke is that these guys don’t know anything computers, which leads to their status as pariahs among their team of fellow interns.

Internship on bed (380x253).jpgPart of the problem lies in the conception of Billy and Nick. A major comic set piece involves their teammates tricking Billy and Nick into searching for a professor named Charles Xavier. Really? These two guys in their early 40s have never seen an X-Men movie? When Billy drops a Stalag 17 reference on one of the youngsters, it becomes clear that director Shawn Levy and co-writers Vaughn and Jared Stern don’t know where Nick and Billy fit in on the pop culture timeline. In one strenuously unfunny scene, Billy repeatedly says “on the line” instead of “online.”

That “joke” might’ve worked if Bob Newhart (or someone of comparable vintage) had played the role. While it does make sense that Flashdance would be on their radar, the recurring references to that piece of quintessential ‘80s corn gets ultra-tired from the word go. And it goes beyond the monologue heard in the trailer, since Flashdance becomes a sort of rallying cry for Billy and Nick’s team as they begin to find their place at Google. And just as we’ve seen in Stripes, Revenge of the Nerds, and Old School (with Vaughn, no less), they of course eventually use their strengths to fit in.

Internship walking (380x282).jpgThe obvious, rampant, improvised “riffing” between Wilson and Vaughn also stales immediately. Levy confirms that large segments resulted from his liberal attitude towards letting his stars improvise. There’s something to be said for carefully written dialogue. You know how pathetic it’s gotten to see old ass Robin Williams trotting out his familiar “manic” riffing for the umpteen billionth time? That’s the road Vaughn and Wilson are quickly heading down. On the audio commentary, Levy gets tongue-tied in his rapturous praise for their “genius.” Hey, I like them too, but they’ve proven themselves capable of actually playing characters rather than hackneyed versions of their established personas. Indulging them so thoroughly doesn’t do the film any favors.

Great looking 1080p presentation here, especially evident during the shadowy strip club sequence. Contrast remains excellent under all lighting situations. The Technicolor wonderland of the Google campus leaps off the screen. All in all, The Internship is modestly more visually interesting than the average buddy comedy and the Blu-ray makes the most of it. Not much to say about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix, other than fidelity is terrific throughout.

Internship 2 (380x334).jpgThe main supplement is director Shawn Levy’s solo commentary track. Somewhat interestingly, he has people live tweeting him throughout the track, to which he tries to respond. I’m not so sure the gimmick pays off, as it feels more like a distraction. Levy is animated and easy to listen to, and he does address the film’s poor box office performance and mixed reaction to the Google product placement. There are a handful of deleted scenes, the best of which being a payoff to intern Neha’s (Tiya Sircar) cosplay infatuation (which also has another bit from Ferrell). It’s a hilarious scene that should’ve been included. “Any Given Monday” is an NFL Films-style documentary about the Quidditch match the interns battle in.

Also worth mentioning is that the Blu-ray offers the theatrical cut as well as an “unrated” version. Though the theatrical cut is already overlong at two hour, there are funny moments (and some nudity) amongst the extra five “unrated” minutes. The Internship combo pack includes a standard DVD (with the rated version only). Despite all my carping, there are some inventive, funny, and worthwhile moments to be had. And you know what? Most of them were well-planned and written in advance (Levy points out that Wilson’s impassioned “growing up in the ‘70s” monologue was the actor’s own creation, sent via text message). Look for Josh Gad, John Goodman, B.J. Novak, and Rob Riggle cameos. Keep your expectations low. It’s not the worst movie you’ll ever rent.

Internship bosses day card (380x238).jpg

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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