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Lewd Humor Tarnishes "The Internship's" Underdog Story

Movies & DVDs

Release Date: June 6, 2013
Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language
Genre: Comedy
Run Time:  119 minutes
Director: Shawn Levy
Actors:  Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, John Goodman, Aasif Mandvi, Jessica Szohr, Rose Byrne, Josh Brener, Josh Gad


As millions of unemployed Americans can tell you, finding a new job is tough. So when the sales team of Billy (Vince Vaughn, The Watch) and Nick (Owen Wilson, Marley & Me) find their product line—and themselves—suddenly obsolete, they’re willing to try anything... even if "anything" means fast-talking their way into an internship at Google. Never mind that the position is only open to college students (hello, University of Phoenix!). Never mind that these two can barely use Google, much less understand how to code it. Never mind that they’re twice the age of the other interns. Our hapless heroes have heart, darn it, and they’re not giving up on their dream.

If you can tear your eyes away from the supercool geek paradise that is the Google campus long enough to ponder the plot for a moment you’ll realize you’ve seen this story before, more than twice. It’s the standard 'lovable misfits band together to take on privileged bully' device. In fact, if you substitute techno wizardry for the more magical kind, it’s basically Harry Potter all over again. There’s even a Quidditch match!

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Whether this is a "good" underdog story is open to question, but I’ve certainly seen worse. In their first onscreen collaboration since Wedding Crashers, Vaugn and Wilson show they still have comedic chemistry. As a man who always aims for the stars—and invariably shoots himself in the foot—Vaugn’s Billy is the biggest underdog of the pack. Owen’s Nick is more the lovable mutt that follows you home. They’re salesmen, but not the sleazy, dishonest kind. Our heroes may bumble but they’re not idiots, just remnants of the pre-computer age. They’re kindhearted guys whose moral code is based more on Flashdance than Scripture, but they’re savvy enough to value people more than technology. Some of Billy’s pep talks may be silly, but they're often oddly inspiring. Even when you see it coming from the get-go, there is something satisfying about watching a bully receive a well-deserved comeuppance.

Those are the positives. The negatives? Well, it is in many ways The Internship is a two-hour-long commercial for Google where you pay for the privilege of watching. There is considerable sexual "humor" and other inappropriate topics played for laughs (since when are physical abuse and self-mutilation funny?). Most, if not all, of the characters are stereotypes: overachieving Asian students pushed by tyrannical parents; work-obsessed female executives who sacrifice marriage and family on the altar of career success; geeky prodigies who can’t speak normal-people English; bullies; the person so focused on their phone and virtual "life" they miss the real life taking place just inches from their nose. And, of course, clueless adults who can’t comprehend technology.

Despite all that, The Internship boasts several charming moments and a number of honestly funny ones. In this "technology wins" and "always be the smartest person in the room" world we live in it’s not a bad thing to see a story where teamwork triumphs and relationships rule. Unlike Billy, we may not find our source of inspiration in Flashdance, but the "work hard and never give up" message still has merit. Sometimes nice guys come out on top, and here they earn their happy ending through hard work and playing well with others. It’s just a shame these good points are blurred through the haze of tasteless sexual content and tired comedic devices. Even so, The Internship is almost surely going to be a summer box office success. If you go, stick around for the "Googly" credits at the end; they’re about the most clever thing in the film.

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Considerable drinking throughout; several characters get drunk. One is cheered on to drunkenness by friends at a bar. Older character offers to buy underage character alcohol.
  • Language/Profanity: Considerable casual profanity sprinkled throughout. All the usual suspects make an appearance: sh**; da**, he**, fu**, as* often combined with “hole”, bit** (and sons of ), the Lord’s name taken in vain, several colorful references to body parts (di**, pu**y, and so on) and an obscene gesture or two.
  • Violence: Some slapstick-style violence, also a prolonged bar fight and a few gut and groin punches. One character refers to physical abuse by parent (treated as a joke) and exhibits self-destructive behavior as punishment for perceived failures.
  • Sex/Nudity: Crude sexual references (spoken and visual) throughout. Man refers to wife’s “new ti*s” which are later shown to full advantage in a bikini. Skimpy clothing worn by multiple females. One scene takes place at a club where scantily-clad women pole dance and men are shown receiving lap dances. Male character shown in bathroom dealing with effect of lap dance. It’s intimated that two unmarried characters spend the night together. A girl calls her virginity "embarrassing." A man asks his girlfriend if she’s leaving “because I’m too selfish in bed” and asks to touch her. A particularly revolting scene begins with a discussion of anal sex and ends with sleazy salesman touching customer in a highly inappropriate way. A girl complains "I wish my parents were gay." Two men shown in bed together, but not in a sexual situation (bed-sharing due to poverty, not sexual preference). Conversation around a character’s breastfeeding years longer than normal. Reference to female cartoon characters being "ravaged by octopus tentacles."
  • Spiritual Themes: Underneath the smut is a rather nice message about not giving up on yourself or your team. Also a clear message that selfishness doesn’t pay and it’s best to treat everyone with respect, even those you don’t perceive as important.

Publication date: June 6, 2013

Page Source (url): http://www.crosswalk.com/culture/movies/the-internship-movie-review.html

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