(12A, 119 min)
Comedy/Romance. Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, Josh Brener, Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael, Max Minghella, Josh Gad, John Goodman.
Director: Shawn Levy.
Product placement in Hollywood films dates back to the 1920s and nowadays it’s commonplace for blockbusters to offset some of their astronomical budgets with shameless plugs.
Elliott lured E.T. out of hiding with an oft-mentioned peanut butter candy and James Bond’s antics have always relied on luxury cars and watches.
This summer, Superman’s titanic battle with General Zod in Man Of Steel razed all of Metropolis except for one branch of a nationwide shop chain and Brad Pitt took time out from battling the undead in World War Z to chug a can of his favourite soft drink in glorious close-up. Saving the world is a thirsty business.
The Internship takes promotional tie-ins to the next level, constructing an entire film around one globally recognisable brand and extolling its virtues for almost two hours.
Shot on location at the San Francisco corporate headquarters of an internet search engine, Shawn Levy’s buddy comedy is essentially a glossy promo for a new generation of hi-tech companies that hope to inspire creativity by transforming workspaces into playgrounds.
“It’s rated the best place in America to work,” rhapsodises Vince Vaughn at the beginning of the film as he and Owen Wilson embark on a quest for “the intangible stuff that made a search engine an engine for change”.
They play watch redundant salesmen Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson). Billy applies for an internship and the two men are delighted to sail through a video conference interview.
Arriving on the west coast, Billy and Nick discover they will be pitted against dozens of other applicants.
The buddies are paired with oddballs.
From the very first assignment, Billy and Nick’s team fails to impress Mr Chetty (Aasif Mandvi), who runs the internship program, and they lag way behind posh rival Graham Hawtrey (Max Minghella) and his high-fliers.
Some of the gags wear thin very quickly, like Billy repeatedly saying “on the line” instead of online.
The central narrative feels like it could have been generated by a computer from the keywords ‘misfits’, ‘triumph’ and ‘adversity’, duly delivering an uplifting, feel good resolution to confirm that the geeks shall indeed inherit the virtual Earth.
Star rating: 5