There are really three movie stars headlining "The Internship": Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, and Google. Actually, it's a surprise Google doesn't get top billing over the humans, so adoringly is the company displayed.
But if you can get past this Mother of All Product Placements, you'll likely find yourself chuckling a lot during this silly but warm-hearted film, directed by Shawn Levy. Sure, it could be shorter, the script less predictable, the action (much) more believable.
But hey, this is Vaughn and Wilson, and if their onscreen banter doesn't quite live up to the riotous 2005 "Wedding Crashers," it's still pretty darned funny. These two may be woefully inept at technology - or at least, their characters in the film are. But chemistry? That Vaughn and Wilson have down.
The premise, like the whole movie, is far-fetched but enjoyable. Billy (Vaughn) and Nick (Wilson) are watch salesmen. On a client call, they discover their company has shut down. Their own boss (John Goodman, appearing too briefly) thinks they're dinosaurs. And so, of course, they apply for an unpaid internship at Google.
There was nothing else they could think of? Better to repress such logic-driven questions. Soon, the two are interviewing - via video chat - for the job, and here the actors are at their best, talking over each other as the duo improvises hysterical answers to geeky questions.
They get the job - diversity, wouldn't ya know. At orientation, a stern taskmaster (a seriously funny Aasif Mandvi), describes the "Hunger Games"-like ordeal ahead: a set of challenges, with only the winning team attaining Google employment.
Perhaps because Google helped out with the film, it is never once questioned that this is the ultimate place to work. From the free food to the nap pods to the driverless cars to the adult-sized slides, and the always sunny days, this is the Shangri-La of the corporate world. No wonder a woman as beautiful as Rose Byrne, who plays Nick's love interest, works there.
As Billy and Nick endure coding seminars and the like, evoking sneers from the brilliant, obnoxious youths around them, jokes about the generation gap abound. Implausibly, Vaughn's Billy keeps saying "on the line" instead of "online" - really, if he knew enough about Google to apply there, wouldn't he know the term "online"?
Still, it's amusing. And he does seem stuck in 1983, so obsessed is he with the film "Flashdance." Plenty of other movie references pop up. There's even a Quidditch game - yup, everyone knows how to play except Billy and Nick - and a very funny reference to "Back to the Future." Apt, really, because you could say this is a film about time travel.
Will Billy and Nick survive their trial-by-technology? Will their self-centered competitors come to see the value of a couple of old dinosaurs?
Do we really need to ask?
As corny and obvious as the script, co-written by Vaughn and Jared Stern, can be, there's a sliver of realism here too - a few serious lines, painfully true, about the state of the job market for young people.
But hey, let's focus on the positive message: Even old fogeys can reinvent themselves. And perhaps even get a job at Google.
Rating: PG-13 for sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language
Running time: 119 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four