RATING: 1 star (out of 4)
Google started off by simply finding porn for you, but one thing led to another and eventually it was doing everything from telling you which streets to turn on to taking drive-by pictures of your house with robo-cars. The overarching theme as it mutated into a technology-stretching, dynamic juggernaut was “Don’t be evil.”
Well, if there was any doubt before, Google has now dispensed with that maxim and gone straight evil. Not only is it avoiding taxes and killing off the beloved Google Reader, but it’s punished the society it’s conditioned to need it by terrorizing it with an awful movie. The Internship, a so-called comedy that is bought, sold and infested with every gaudy myth of its reckless cult, is definitive proof of the company’s malfeasance. The movie is a 119-minute waterboarding that blinds and douses you silly with cynical, analytics-derived clichés and formulas, providing sweet relief only when the pukingly cute, Gmail-themed credits roll. Once it releases you, you gain a new appreciation for life because you realize you weren’t actually dying, it only just felt that way.
So powerful and cruel is Google, it used its suction-cupped, sea monster tentacles to strangle a pair of formidable funny-men – Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson – and made them dance like sickly puppets to create a Google commercial marionette variety hour. Making their Wedding Crashers glory days seem like 80 years ago rather than 8, Vaughn and Wilson play middle-aged goobers who are laid off watch salesmen who take internships at Google.
The movie copies the format of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the hapless protagonists entering the wonderland and competing against other golden ticket winners in a soul-wrenching, vaguely defined contest to vie for the prize of a lifetime supply of chocolaty Google paychecks. Instead of using interns to perform menial tasks and work as slave laborers to fill in jobs of recently laid-off workers like most companies, it apparently splits them into teams and makes them prove their worth in a wacky series of 1980s Nickelodeon Dares, Double Dares and Physical Challenges.
But oh, what a stage on which to play. Google is a magical dream world of pure imagination, chocolate waterfalls and ever helpful Oompa Loompas. It gets even better. There’s a slide, a cafeteria that serves all the free food you want, a sand volleyball court, a nap room and a Quidditch field. And its sexy, overworked execs are always willing to party with interns.
The movie draws as many laughs as Google+ posts do comments. Your brain winds up working like the opposite of a Google “I’m feeling lucky” search, identifying sappy punchlines and brain-numbing story twists before they spew out of the screen. Vaughn’s motormouth tangents and Wilson’s homespun Texas idiocy are good for occasional amusement, but they only worsen the despair by reminding you genuine talent is being wasted.
The movie shows impressive restraint by waiting about 12 minutes before starting the Google product placement assault, with Vaughn Googling stuff before leaving his Chrome browser on its default Google homepage. Further proving the movie’s evil, it also whores itself out to a certain for-profit online ‘university’ named after Arizona’s smelliest city, first by cracking light-hearted jokes about it before having the leads lay down in bed, wearing shirts bearing the institution’s logo.
The symbolism here, intended or not, is that this is a movie happily in bed with the devil. Having already paid for itself with corporate pounds of flesh and not bothered forwarding the cash to buy a laugh or two, The Internship is happy to take your money and dismiss you with a Google Wave.
Starring Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Max Minghella and John Goodman. Written by Vaughn and Jared Stern. Directed by Shawn Levy. 119 minutes. Rated PG-13.