Much has been made of the fact that The Internship, the new buddy comedy starring Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, and the Googleplex, is basically an advertisement for Google. This is completely true. It seems every couple of minutes the movie is trotting another feature of life at Google. Nap pods and free food are lovingly lingered over, and the concept of “googleyness” is treated with deadly seriousness.
The movie climaxes with the protagonists attempting to sell the owners of a small pizzeria on the virtues of advertising via Google, and AdSense and Google Places somehow, vaguely, becomes a magical means of expanding from a family business to a thriving chain. Guess everything Google touches just turns to gold!
But under all the sunshine, The Internship is actually pretty much a total bummer. (Spoilers ahead, in the event anyone wants to pay for a Google commercial.)
Let’s try scratching all the rah-rah off the premise: Two dudes–who, the movie bends over backwards to establish, are actually fantastic salesmen, though a bit downmarket–are laid off from their jobs selling watches, which theoretically no one wants anymore. To drive home the point, an ancient secretary pulls out an iPhone to tell them the time.
Things rapidly become desperate: Nick (Owen Wilson) takes a job selling mattresses for his sister’s gross boyfriend (played by Will Ferrell, yukking it up). His pal Billy (Vince Vaughn) can’t even get that far. He comes home to a foreclosure notice, his girlfriend yells at him for never delivering on his upbeat promises and dumps him.
Sound like summer fun so far?
So Billy sits down at his computer and starts researching jobs for people without any skills. There aren’t really any, but hey! Brainstorm: Maybe they can go to work for Google. Billy wrangles himself and Nick an interview, and despite their blatant lack of qualifications, they land internships (because Google’s committed to diversity).
But when they arrive in Mountain View–which is portrayed like some combination of Oz and nirvana, but with Sergey Brin and driverless cars–they learn that all the interns will be divided up into teams, and only one team will get job offers. It’s make or break, and given that Billy and Nick know zip about code and diddly about startups, the odds don’t look good.
To make matters worse, after managing to unite the young’uns with a trip to a strip club–on the Google bus, naturally!–Billy fucks up a big contest (involving manning the Google helpline, which, LOL), and it completely crushes him. He quits and, resigning himself to the fact that he’s a loser who isn’t meant for great things (seriously, this is how the movie portrays this) he takes a job selling electric scooters to nursing-home residents.
But then! In a not-so-shocking twist, the last competition is actually a sales competition, so he comes back, they nail it, and it’s a validation of Billy’s entire existence. Google believes in him. He’s a winner! His and Nick’s economic futures (doing something at Google–it’s not really clear what) are assured. The pair are personally congratulated by Sergey. All is right in the world, now that they’re Googlers. Salvation: achieved.
Now, it’s pretty hard to believe Google would run its internship program in such an inefficient manner. They’ll take every talented coder they can get their hands on, to the point they’re buying entire startups to strip for parts. They’re not going to artificially cap themselves at six people and then let the rest of those promising young engineers escape to Facebook or wherever.
But if you think about it on a bigger scale, this is exactly how Google runs its internship program. Sure, they don’t limit themselves to six people, but they do only take a certain number of people who meet specific, stringent qualifications. The spots are far from infinite: Google has something like 30,000 employees worldwide. (Even General Electric, whose most job-creating days are probably long gone, still employs around 130,000 Americans.) Most of you folks who didn’t learn to code will just have to shift for yourselves, “googleyness” be damned.
So yeah, unless you’re an engineer, you might just want to skip The Internship. At least The Purge is upfront about its Darwinian worldview.