The Internship (2013)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V-1; L-3; S/N-5. Running time: 1 hour 59 min.

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help. Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone? And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

There may be a partial spoiler in the very last sentence.Vince Vaughn, who co-wrote the script with Jared Stern, joins again with Owen Wilson in a screw ball comedy that some critics consider one long product placement ad for Goggle. They are Billy McMahon (Vaughn) and Nick Campbell (Wilson), two hotshot luxury watch salesmen let go by their boss (John Goodman) because of obsolescence. In the era of the iPhone, who uses watches any more? As they search for job openings, using the technology that has undone them, one of them discovers that Google is offering summer internships, at the end of which one team will be hired.

After an improbable interview via Skype, the Google recruiting team almost decides not to admit them. However, Lyle (Josh Brener) argues that despite their age and obvious technical incompetence, there is something about them that is just the kind of quirkiness that might make a good match for Google. They represent “a new kind of diversity,” which is a plus, he argues. Thus, though most of the other recruiters expect them to fail, the pair is admitted to the program.

Thus this buddy film becomes a fish out of water tale. Both friends are in their forties, considered ancient by the hundred or more recent college grads gathered on the colorful campus, one filled with workers on scooters or lounging on nap pods or ordering food—the guys can hardly believe that the meals are free. When the chief recruiter Mr. Chetty (Assif Mandvi) tells the Nooglers, as the interns are called, to form themselves into teams, everyone avoids our guys, so he teams Billy and Nick with the other loners to form what everyone will come to regard as the hopeless team.

Their opinion would seem to be well grounded, all of the members having problems relating to anything other than a small screen. But Billy and Nick bring perseverance and optimism sorely needed by the others, and most of all, life experience. In a Quiddich game that is part of the program of competitive games (Nick calls it “techie Hunger Games” ), the team is slaughtered in the first half, so Billy gives one of those sports movies pep talks about teamwork, and the members begin playing together for the first time, scoring several times against their obviously superior opponents. They almost win, afterwards it being obvious that Chetty has noticed Billy’s persuasive ability as an unofficial coach. How the guys form a relationship with the diverse members (one of which is a girl) and bond together is a process enjoyable to watch. Along the way Billy even forms a relationship with the reluctant senior manager Dana (Rose Byrne), bringing to the workaholic woman a realization that there is a life worth pursuing outside the Google campus. The “date from hell” he promises her is one of the funniest dinner scenes you will see this year.

This would be a wonderful film on the importance of perseverance, teamwork, and friendship, great for a young adult church group, but for the scene in the upper class strip club in which the various misfits learn to “let go” and enjoy themselves. This fifteen-minute or so vulgar sequence once would have given the film an R rating, but then those were times of a stricter view toward masturbation and public drunkenness. The inclusion of this sequence is too bad, as otherwise this could be a fun family film.

The view of Google as a workers’ paradise is probably over optimistic, but it provides at least a brief glimpse of the company most of use many times a day. And as far as the values of other-concern and cooperation, this silly film delivers its message amidst lots of laughter. And just a hint for the wise: take a good look at the bearded guy lost in whatever he is listening to on his headphones.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. How is the film a good example of what advancing technology does to workers?

2. What qualities do Billy and Nick possess that prove transferable?

3. How are they like fish out of water on the Google campus?

4. What do you think of the many perks that Google staff receives? How can this enhance the creativity of the staff? How does this compare with your work environment?

5. What do you think of Lyle and Chetty? How do they show that they are perceptive in dealing with people?

6. How are the various team members helped by Billy and Nick?

7. In the late scene in the pizza parlor how do the pair show that good salesman is not so much about the sale as it is about knowing and caring for the client and convincing him that the deal is in both of their best interests?

8. What do you think of the way in which Billy related to the incommunicative bearded man? Did anyone else notice or speak with him? How is Billy similar to Jesus and his relationship with the neglected/rejected? What do you think of the results of this?