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updated: 6/6/2013 2:11 PM

Vaughn/Wilson chemistry optimizes comic 'Internship'

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  • Nick and Billy (Owen Wilson, left, and Vince Vaughn) compete against much-younger interns for a job at Google in "The Internship."

      Nick and Billy (Owen Wilson, left, and Vince Vaughn) compete against much-younger interns for a job at Google in "The Internship."

  • Billy and Nick (Vince Vaughn, left, and Owen Wilson) seek out a job at Google in "The Internship."

      Billy and Nick (Vince Vaughn, left, and Owen Wilson) seek out a job at Google in "The Internship."

  • Video: "The Internship" trailer

 
 

Eight years have passed since Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson starred in the $200-plus million, R-rated comedy "Wedding Crashers."

Good news: The electricity still crackles between them in Shawn Levy's PG-13-rated comedy "The Internship," an overlong (119 minutes) and restrained reunion that fronts what appears to be a theatrical commercial for Google.

This comedy bumbles out of the gate with a screenplay given to frequent dumbness and obsessions with 1980s pop culture references, mostly to do with Jennifer Beals' onstage shower in "Flashdance."

But give it time.

"The Internship" eventually warms up with some big-hearted good will and affable chemistry between its two main stars, who make their performances appear to be totally improvised.

Old-school salesmen Billy (Vaughn, a native of Buffalo Grove and Lake Forest) and Nick (Wilson) rudely discover that their employer (John Goodman) has failed to inform them that his watch company has closed up shop. ("Nobody wears watches anymore!" he thunders. "They use telephones!")

The two can't find work searching the Internet. Not until Billy hits upon a brilliant idea: They'll go for internships at Google's San Francisco-based headquarters. The internships might lead to full-time employment. Maybe.

These plans instantly appear to be dashed when the two guys arrive on Google's collegiate campus, flooded by younger people smarter and more technically savvy than they. ("When did 20-year-olds start looking like 12?" Nick asks.)

They run into Graham (Max Minghella), a rude Brit destined to become their nemesis.

They also run into overly enthusiastic Google team leader Lyle (Josh Brener, who does look 12). He puts Billy and Nick in with other misfit interns, among them uptight Stu (Dylan O'Brien) and insecure Neha (Tiya Sircar).

Under the guidance of Google's strict manager Mr. Chetty (a comically potent performance by Aasif Mandvi), the intern teams compete in several exercises for points to determine which group will be offered full-time jobs at the end of the summer. First, they must learn the concept called "Googliness."

Billy and Nick appear to have no chance to compete outside their age range. But the screenplay (by Vaughn and Jared Stern) rigs the situation so that the duo's life experiences and dubious skills actually enhance their team's chances.

"The Internship" doesn't offer much we haven't seen before. Vaughn and Wilson recycle their "Wedding Crashers" personas without embellishments. The movie makes an awkward attempt to replicate the R-rated nature of "Crashers" without actually venturing into R-rated territory.

That's why when Billy and Nick take their team to a local strip club for a painfully extended comedy sequence, the strippers never actually take off anything.

Some of the movie seems pure boneheaded. Take the time Stu and the group tell Billy and Nick to search the campus for a "Professor Xavier" in a wheelchair, and they don't have any idea he's the fictional character who leads the comic book superheroes "The X-Men."

Would they be the only two guys on Earth who've never read Marvel comics or seen the movies based on them?

Couldn't Vaughn and Stern have concocted a more credible way to illustrate how out of touch the "old" interns might be with the younger kids?

If Billy and Nick are so out-of-touch that they've never heard of Professor Xavier, how could they ever aspire to "Googliness"?

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