THE INTERNSHIP – Blu-ray review

Watching “The Internship,” I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was reliving “Stripes” all over again—only instead of Bill Murray and Harold Ramis as the laid-back, unconventional “leaders” of a bunch of misfits we get Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. And instead of Army basic training exercises as the main plot structure, it’s a series of internship challenges to see which group gets offered permanent jobs at Internet giant Google. Heck, there’s even a disapproving authority figure (Aasif Mandvi as Mr. Chetty) that’s every bit as ubiquitous as Sgt. Hulka, and a raunchy club scene where the tech geeks get drunk and bond like the men in khaki.

I also couldn’t shake the feeling that with Wilson and Vaughn taking the lead, “The Internship” should have been more consistently funny. Even a cameo bit by Will Farrell felt more like semi-successful improv than a routine that was the result of a carefully honed comedy screenplay—which, by the way, Vaughn wrote with Jared Stern (“Mr. Popper’s Penguins”). And John Goodman’s cameo wasn’t funny either.

Don’t get me wrong. There were a bunch of laugh-out-loud moments in “The Internship,” and Wilson and Vaughn are always fun to watch. In fact, my family thought this 2013 comedy was entertaining enough to merit a 7 on the Movie Met scale. For me, it was more like a 6, because every laugh-out-loud moment was just a reminder that there were also plenty of missed opportunities for jokes. And Vaughn’s deadpan seems to get deader every year. The result, from my seat, was a comedy that lacked energy and felt a little flat in spots.

If you’ve seen the trailer you know the basic plot:  two manufacturer’s reps for watches who live and die by the schmooze are told their company is kaput, that they’re dinosaurs in a world where people go online to learn what to buy—not out to dinner with two guys who get them drunk and joke around in order to get them to place a big order. So Billy (Vaughn) signs up him and his buddy Nick (Wilson) for an internship interview with Google, circumventing a little problem about needing to be college students by also registering them at the all-online University of Phoenix.

Once they’re in San Francisco and check out Google headquarters the sideplots also kick in:  Nick is attracted to a workaholic employee (Rose Byrne), a fellow intern (Max Minghella) makes his disdain for them public-clear, and a choose-your-own-group moment leads to the banding together of those who weren’t selected. Joining the two “grandpas” are team leader Lyle (Josh Brener), the anti-social Stuart (Dylan O’Brien), perky Neha (Tiya Sircar), and an Asian man whose bullying mother has made him into a mass of neuroses. Together they will brainstorm—those that have brains—and of course the guys make their unconventional background and lack of tech skills work for them at Google.

If there’s a movie with greater positive product placement than this one, I can’t recall it. Google comes across as heaven-on-earth, the best employer of all-time and a place where dedicated workers believe they are helping to make the average person’s life better. If you’re sensitive to such things, you’ll probably break out in hives watching “The Internship.” It was actually filmed at the Google campus in Mountain View, California, and just the free food in the cafeteria and giant slide ought to be enough to get them a thousand times more internship applications than they received before the film hit theaters this summer.

“The Internship” is rated PG-13 for “sexuality, some crude humor, partying and language.”

“The Internship” looks as slick as Billy and Nick THINK they are, with a glossy surface that still has enough grain to please viewers who want films to look like films, not studio head shots. There’s plenty of detail, bright but not overly saturated colors, and natural looking skin tones. In short, the AVC/MPEG-4 transfer to a 50-gig Blu-ray disc is a good one. No compression issues, no haloing, no aliasing—nothing to break the illusion.

The featured audio is (no surprise) an English DTS-HD MA 5.1, with additional options in English Descriptive 5.1 and Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1. Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish. “The Internship” lacks substantial bass, except during a rowdy Quidditch match and clubbing scenes. But the dialogue is always clear and the effects seem seamlessly inserted into the mix.

This combo pack includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and UV copy. Viewers have two ways to watch the film: the theatrical version and the unrated version (with around 4 minutes of added footage/raunchiness). Shawn Levy turns up on a full-length director’s commentary, talking quite a bit about the advantages and disadvantages of shooting at Google. But really, apart from that all we get is a fake documentary about the Quidditch match that hardly seems worth the 18 minutes devoted to it, a theatrical trailer, and eight minutes of deleted scenes.

Bottom line:
“The Internship” isn’t as funny or exuberant as “Wedding Crashers” and the plot is formulaic, but as lightweight entertainment goes it’s . . . well, light and entertaining.