Three Inches Up

(a review of The Internship (2013))

(spoilers)

Meh, The Internship was okay. Not exactly hilarious or even sensible, I found myself comparing it so quickly to Wedding Crashers, a much funnier film, because of its primary cast, and Dodgeball, somewhat because of its cast as well but also due to the aging underdog theme. Plus the Will Ferrell cameo, a man I can only digest in very small doses, was way better in Wedding Crashers; in this he was just insufferable.

I felt like The Internship didn’t know what it wanted to be, raucous comedy (a goal it failed at miserably), or middle-aged comedy/drama. The protagonists are pretty insufferable themselves at times, dragging their ignorance through the mud at not only their own expense but also, unfortunately, at the audience’s. The characters in general are confusing, uncharacterized messes. Half the time I forgot that Lyle was their already-employed team leader, due to the fact that he does zero directing of them, he has as many issues and social problems that the older men need to help him through to fit the weakly laid theme of wisdom, and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson do not defer to him whatsoever for anything. The majority of the rest of the characters were underdeveloped, and often exaggerated, cliches, from a workaholic love interest convinced to for once not stay at the office until 9PM who then puts out on the first date to the direct superior with constant snarky comments who turns out to have a heart of gold kind of. Vince Vaughn does his usual toeing of the fourth wall, because he so well works the sarcasm and facial expressions of his numerous characters to detach them slightly from the rabble, with lines and actions so discerning of current events that I can often swear he is some kind of body hopping demigod. But that’s not enough to save this movie, no.

Who does, or at least who comes close? Josh Gad, still someone with whom I am not outrageously familiar. His character “Headphones” is in three scenes that I noticed, and only in two of which does he have any lines. But he fucking kills it. He’s subtle, graceful even, a deep character begging to be moved up into more screen time to make this film unquestionably better. Not main character material, certainly, but just someone that genuinely and without force made me laugh, a rare occurrence perfect portrayal thanks to perfect casting.

And I wanted to end on that note but I feel as if I haven’t yet painted this picture accurately. There is goodness, not greatness, in this film. It really does have a wholesome message, but moreover I was impressed by some of the pacing and comedic timing, and as usual when relevant I really liked the subtlety. For example, I noticed that Vince Vaughn, after being told in no uncertain terms that there are no exceptions to the rule about taking some of the office’s free food home, is seen eating, I believe, every single one of the items he listed at some time throughout the film, either in the Google offices or elsewhere. This is never mentioned. So, the in-jokes, as I assume (hope) there are more, are great, but whatever potential there is because of them and Josh Gad and a few other key inclusions is muddled, washed out, or obscured by generally unfunny writing and story. So overall, and in fewer words, I would classify this as a movie that I would absolutely love to like more than I did.

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