Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are back where they don’t belong.
When last we saw them together, in 2005’s “Wedding Crashers,” they infiltrated and upended a cherished institution. In “The Internship,” their misguided bravura insinuates them into another kind of institution — the corporate world of Google.
Only the setting has changed; Vaughn retains his glib-yet-desperate patter and Wilson his earnest sweetness. It’s their shtick, and they’re sticking to it.
After their jobs selling watches in an increasingly watchless society dry up, Billy (Vaughn) Googles “jobs for people with no skills” and lands himself and Nick (Wilson) an interview for a summer internship at the technology behemoth. In a nod to diversity, if not believability, they make the cut.
Upon arriving at the candy-colored Disneyland of the (real-life) Google campus, of course, it’s obvious that life experience or no, their University of Phoenix résumés are no match for the Stanford pedigrees of the other hundred or so fresh-faced whippersnappers. Billy and Nick’s blustery optimism hits the shoals early when they’re dispatched to a team with four other misfits who nevertheless roll their eyes at the decrepit specimens they’re saddled with.
Inevitably the oldsters dispatch some sage advice — albeit embedded in moldy “Flashdance” references — that is actually helpful, and the six teammates bond into the “Bad News Bears” in beanies. Aptly, because “The Internship” is really just a sappy sports story; the “Survivor”-meets-Mensa challenges establish our heroes as underdogs, providing for slow-mo montages and a do-or-die moment that sets up the “big game” finale.
This is a movie that skates by on the sheer likability of its stars; there are genuine laughs in the script co-written by Vaughn. The age-versus-youth theme, however, is as subtle as a meat cleaver: Are we supposed to buy that Billy and Nick are unfamiliar with “X-Men” and “Harry Potter,” or that Billy can’t remember that the term is “online,” not “on the line”? You can Google that.