Med City Movie Guy: As computer capers go, this one's pretty basic
As a one-time writer for an IT trade magazine (perhaps you heard of my column "The Duke of URL?"), I found several parts of the new Vince Vaughn comedy "The Internship" preposterous. A couple of forty-something slackers BS their way to an internship at Google, the preeminent high-tech firm of our time, where they compete alongside MIT-type overachievers? This is not the tech send-up I would have made.
But since when is plausibility a prerequisite for box office success? Two films about cartoony blue people ("Avatar" and "The Smurfs") together earned more than $3 billion! The cinema is where we go to be entertained. Sometimes that entertainment is intellectually stimulating or socially relevant. Other times it's just empty calories. This is one of the other times.
The comic chemistry between Vaughn and Owen Wilson shows some signs of aging in this third team-up ("Wedding Crashers," "Starsky & Hutch") but still holds out. Here the two are washed-out watch salesmen looking to reinvent themselves as "Nooglers" (new Googlers). They, along with a few younger misfits, compete as a team in a series of mental "Hunger Games" with the winners guaranteed coveted jobs with the search engine giant.
It's all fish out of water humor as the old-era slackers clash with the 21-year-olds. Yes, it's as formulaic and predictable as they come. Yes, a lot of Vaughn's dialog is targeted more to the CompuServe than Pinterest demographic. ("I'm your Bill Holden in 'Stalag 17,'" he says, along with a dozen or so references to "Flashdance.") Yes, the cynical disenchanted and anxious college juniors are stereotypes.
But it's also persistently optimistic and spirited. Vaughn excels in his motivational speeches rallying the troops (here like "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story") just as Wilson raises easygoing to an art form. While nothing about the other interns stand out, Aasif Mandvi as Vaughn's Sergeant Foley — the tough head of the internship program whom the duo need to impress — is an effective counterbalance.
Some LOL moments (their "on the line" interview and University of Phoenix matriculation, for example) but few ROFLs and no WMPs.
Vaughn and Wilson fans will give "The Internship" enough latitude to overlook its flaws. Others should #WaitForTheDVD.
Chris Miksanek is a Rochester freelance writer. Follow him on the Center Stage blog at PostBulletin.com.
"The Internship" isn't great, but neither does it megabyte(!). Parts of it were shot on Google’s campus, and co-founder Sergey Brin has a cameo. Not too shabby. But here are a few of the better "computery" films.
— Sandra Bullock is a telecommuting software tester in the " The Net," an identity theft cyber drama far ahead of its time.
— Long before "‘Call of Duty," the hottest thing was a backdoor in the WOPR’s OS to play Global Thermonuclear War in the Matthew Broderick thriller " WarGames."
— "E.T.’s" Henry Thomas is an 11-year-old with an active imagination who stumbles on some military secrets in a game (and film) called " Cloak & Dagger."
— At IniTECH, they’re making code Y2K-compliant (and using the new TPS report cover sheets). From "King of the Hill" creator Mike Judge, " Office Space" is hands-down the most accurate depiction of cubicle life and one of the funniest films ever made.
Readers, what’s your favorite computer film? Visit the Center Stage BLOG at postbulletin.com and tell me.