The Lamest Movie of 2013
This isn’t a look at the worst movie of the past year, not by a long shot. Nor is it an offensive movie. This movie isn’t interesting enough to earn either title. No, this movie is just lame. Most lame movies can be ignored, but this transcends normal lameness to become the very pinnacle of lame. There is so much lame in this movie it is worth close study.
The Internship was written by and stars Vince Vaughn, along with Owen Wilson, Rose Byrne and various racial stereotypes, and is directed by Shawn Levy (known for other examples of mediocrity Date Night and Real Steel). It’s really the writing where the lameness begins. Writing isn’t the best term for what has been done here – all Vaughn has done is watch a couple of college movies and wrote down exactly what happened in them. Vaughn and Wilson play two guys who fancy themselves pretty cool and enter a study environment. They are shocked to find themselves only being accepted into the oddball loser clique and on the bad side of a needlessly mean dean character. For no explicit reason there is a series of challenges they have to win against the snobby jock clique to avoid being expelled. They have to learn to grow up and study while teaching the losers how to be cool.
The only faint whiff of originality in this movie is the relocation of the story from a college campus to a search engine workplace and the effort they go to crowbar in every cliché of the college subgenre. This is so overflowing with copy pasted elements it follows the same script as the parody episode in The Simpsons. It’s not even the only movie released this year to use the exact same story, but at least Monster’s University was set in a college.
Why is this movie set at Google anyway? For one thing there’s a running gag throughout the film about the characters not knowing the basics of Google and search engines (more on that later), which is difficult to believe with such a globally embedded industry. It’s like not knowing what food gets served as McDonalds. Although Google did not actively pay to be promoted in this film they did have a great deal of control over the movie and forced cuts on anything that put the company in a bad light. For example, a joke that saw one of Google’s robot cars crashing had to be struck from the script at the companies demand. At times the movie feels like a promotional video.
Surely it would’ve been advantageous for the filmmakers to use a fake brand name rather than Google. Their association with the search engine giant brings in a bit more attention to the film but Google’s influence over the movie detracts from the comedy – and if they’re not in it for the comedy, what are they in it for? If a movie is good enough people will see it. Look at The Hangover – no well known actors and a simple premise, yet it was a blockbuster. A parody brand would carry the same meaning without the business constraints.
The running ‘joke’ about the leading characters not being up to date with the workings of the internet is only believable if you’re in you’re over the hill and never took that computer literacy course during the late 90s. These guys don’t even know the term ‘online’, never mind the extended sequence where Vaughn is confused by Instagram (which turns into an advertisement). These jokes may have hit the mark twenty years ago but in 2013 they sound like idiots. And not the loveable kind.
Once we get past these quibbles we get the movie itself, and any good movie hinges on its characters. Vaughn and Wilson play the exact same characters they play in 90% of all their movies, so there’s nothing interesting to see here (unless you have a really short memory). The rest of the cast is made up with the kind of nerd stereotypes that would make the writers of The Big Bang Theory cringe. There is plenty of humour to be found in geek stereotypes, but this film makes no effort to explore this strand of comedy. Instead they have a character that likes Cosplay, and one who spends all his time looking at his phone and an Asian guy whose parents are overbearing, and that’s the extent of the comedy. There aren’t any jokes about these subcultures and the characters don’t develop any further than their introductions. That fact that every nerd is portrayed as an anti-social, awkward and pathetic loser makes the movie feel dated. Vaughn works in Hollywood, hasn’t he noticed that it’s the geeks rule the roost in the business nowadays.
The way the story resolves itself in the final, and thickest, slice of lameness in this lame trifle. After the immensely clichéd story, where the newcomers teach the nerds how to be accepted in to society and they learn the value of study through montage, they have the results of their last challenge. Putting aside the fact that a night of study provided them with the knowledge to resolve any problem that can come up with any Google product the final scenes take away the point of anything that came before. After failing the earlier challenges they do so gosh darn well in the final one (scratch that – they do hypothetically well) that it somehow over-rides the previous fails and they are given jobs at Google over the group who, you know, had actually been winning.
It is also revealed the strange bearded man who doesn’t say anything to people who make an effort to talk to him is actually one of the head honchos of Google and will help them get their jobs. Because they sat next to him at lunch (because there was literally nowhere else to sit) and had no further interaction with him. Life lesson kids – if a creepy bearded man who eavesdrops on you all day offers you a job, take it.
This movie isn’t bad. It’s just not funny, clever or original. It is just lame on every level. You don’t need to see it, and if you do you won’t remember it. It’s a pointless cavalcade of cliche and tired references and the world doesn’t need it. In short: lame.