"The Internship" is likable; monumentally unfunny

 

BY STEWART SMITH

The problem with "The Internship" is that it is aggressively unfunny. But at the same time, it's also pretty affable, so I find myself unable to lob spears of white-hot hate at it.

It's like that guy at a party who's constantly throwing out painfully and visibly unfunny jokes but who is just so darn likable and nice that you can't help but not hate him. You want him to go away, just so badly, and yet he keeps hanging around telling these dud jokes.

That's "The Internship."

Maybe I was just predisposed to disliking the movie. It's hard to say. I've grown weary of both Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, but Vaughn especially. Wilson will at least show up in good stuff on occasion, like a Wes Anderson film or "Midnight In Paris" (still one of my favorites of the last few years). Vaughn, on the other hand, has been coasting along, content to simply be "Vince Vaughn" in nearly every movie in which he appears for the last decade at least. That was fine for a while, but its grown tiresome now.

Vaughn and Wilson play Billy and Nick, respectively, a duo of salesmen who still take pride in their ability to pull down in-person sales. However, they don't discover they're out of a job until a client tells them their company has folded. Desperate for work other than selling mattresses, thanks to Billy's fast talking, they manage to land an internship at Google. Management considers them to be longshots given their age and lack of tech savvy, not to mention the motley crew of fellow interns put on their team as they compete for full-time employment.

Mostly "The Internship" tries to remind you of how much you all enjoyed the two of them as a similar buddy duo in "Wedding Crashers." The chemistry is still there, and that's where the film's affability comes from, in large part. These guys are clearly having a fun time together and they riff off each other well, it's just that the script does them no favors. Each and every attempt at humor falls flat as a pancake.

It tries, at least. It tries really hard. It wants so hard for you to laugh at Billy and Nick being out of their league or the smarminess/nerdiness/awkwardness of their fellow interns. But it fails. Every. Single. Time. I cringed where I should have laughed. I sighed where I should have giggled. It was painful.

And yet, I can't hate it. Wilson and Vaughn try so hard and that effort at least shows. They make their characters quite likable and they do their best to actually infuse the proceedings with some genuine heart. It's earnest, I'll give it that much.

Maybe I'd be a little less harsh toward it also if it weren't so blatantly in the pocket for Google. If you weren't aware of the breadth of products and services that Google offers, you certainly will be by the end of the movie. It's basically a two-hour commercial for the ubiquitous company.

If a comedy that tries really hard and is somewhat likable despite being monumentally unfunny, then "The Internship" is the comedy for you. Otherwise, it's not worth bothering.

Grade: D-

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