02 July 2013

California Dreamin'

After rolling my eyes through more Vince Vaughn and/or Owen Wilson movie trailers than I care to remember, I was surprised to find myself being charmed by the trailer for The Internship. Maybe not charmed enough to pay £13 to see it, but certainly enough to go to a free preview screening last night. I chuckled several times during the trailer and was worried that those moments were the only funny parts of the movie, but actually, it was perfectly harmless. Utterly predictable, of course, and by no means a great film, but entertaining enough.

Director Shawn Levy's film feels like a smattering of The Social NetworkThe Apprentice and even The Hunger Games, combined with a large dollop of Wedding Crashers — or any other Vince Vaughn and/or Owen Wilson movie you've ever seen. Our screwball heroes are Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson), a pair of great salesman who get laid off and, against all odds, manage to secure themselves internships at Google. Despite being unable to operate a web cam, or talk about things being "online" rather than "on the line."

Billy and Nick are clearly the wildcard candidates, and are about twice as old as the other interns and even than Lyle (Josh Brener), who is assigned to manage them and the other misfits on their team. You see, the internship is a series of projects or challenges, at the end of which, only the winning team will be offered jobs at Google. Derided by evil Brit Graham (Max Minghella, who also played an antagonist  in The Social Network; what's next, Max? A Vested Pinterest: The Pinterest Story?), who picks all the Ivy Leaguers and hot girls for his team, and admires his reflection using his Android mirror app, dropping his ts like there's no tomorrow.

On Team Fogeys, meanwhile, we have the Asian genius/maniac (Tobit Raphael), the geek-chic-ier-than-thou brain (Dylan O'Brien), and the girl who's an expert of every imaginable online fetish but who has never had a boyfriend (Tiya Sircar). Their 23-year-old manager, Lyle, is essentially Harry Potter. They all resent the presence of the oldies, who have no coding skills to add to the challenges and who, despite being much better at sports than their team mates, don't know the rules of Quidditch, which, of course, turns out to be one of the challenges.

But is it possible that Billy and Nick's teammates might learn as much from our heroes as vice-versa? Is it possible that if they all just pool their skills and work together, they might defeat the Evil Brit and the others? Is it possible that Billy might also win the heart of Dana (Rose Byrne), a 30-year-old Google employee with no social life? I couldn't possibly say, but you don't exactly go to see this kind of film for the shocking plot twists. You don't really go for the great acting either, but as I said before, I did laugh more than the requisite number of times, even if it was more chuckling than ROFLing. There is, of course, as much laughing at the Google geeks as at our hapless luddites, and there are uncredited cameos a-plenty, from Goodman and Ferrell to Brin. In sum, this is good popcorn fodder, but you wouldn't be missing out if you waited until the movie's DVD or TV release.

Incidentally, if you are hoping for more of a real insight into how things work at Google, I would recommend I'm Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards, Google employee number 59. Because there is more to Google than nap pods, free food ("even if I order five bagels? Or seven?") and an in-house sauna.

On a final Google-related note, I dedicate this post to the memory of Google Reader. RIP. I've switched over to Feedly, which is a great alternative. I've also added a new Feedly button to this blog, in case you'd like to subscribe.

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