Google it for gags

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

IT might have been fit­ting if The In­tern­ship ended with stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wil­son wear­ing ruby red shoes while click­ing their heels and whis­per­ing: ‘‘There’s no place like Google; there’s no place like Google’’.

The com­edy de­picts Google as cor­po­rate Amer­ica’s equiv­a­lent of the Emer­ald City from The Wizard of Oz –a colour­ful place where food is free, in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and gad­gets loom around ev­ery cor­ner and dreams can come true for those who think big, work hard and col­lab­o­rate to make it hap­pen.

It’s a two-hour show­case for Google’s ide­al­is­tic cul­ture and for a prod­uct line that’s be­com­ing deeply in­grained in peo­ple’s tech­nol­ogy-de­pen­dent lives.

The In­tern­ship will likely be a hit among Google-loving geeks and fans of feel-good flicks, es­pe­cially those with an affin­ity for the riff­ing and mirth­ful chem­istry be­tween Vaughn and Wil­son – back to­gether for the first time since Wed­ding Crash­ers eight years ago.

But the film may not cre­ate such warm and fuzzy feel­ings among Google crit­ics who view the com­pany as a self­in­ter­ested bully that tram­ples over copy­rights, in­trudes into peo­ple’s pri­vacy and sti­fles com­pe­ti­tion by abus­ing its power as the in­ter­net’s main gate­way. All of th­ese con­cerns have been the fo­cal points of high-pro­file reg­u­la­tory in­ves­ti­ga­tions and law­suits.

Yet none of that is raised in the movie, which re­volves around a cou­ple of 40-some­thing-old guys who be­come clue­less in­terns at Google af­ter los­ing their jobs sell­ing a prod­uct – wrist­watches – sup­planted by in­no­va­tion. Ev­ery­one en­am­oured with Google Inc af­ter see­ing the movie should keep one thing in mind.

‘‘This is not a doc­u­men­tary on Google where you come in and say, ‘This is ex­actly the way things are done there’,’’ Vaughn told an au­di­ence of real-life Google in­terns and tech­nol­ogy re­porters af­ter a screen­ing of The In­tern­ship.

The big­gest mis­nomer about the movie re­volves around Google’s sum­mer in­tern­ship pro­gram. As the movie por­trays, Google does in­deed se­lect about 1500 elite univer­sity stu­dents from around the world to par­tic­i­pate, but the film con­jures an imag­i­nary cur­ricu­lum for the sake of en­ter­tain­ment.

In the film, the in­terns are sep­a­rated into teams that com­pete in dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines to win the ul­ti­mate prize: full­time jobs at Google. At one point, the teams even en­gage in a game of Quid­ditch, the myth­i­cal sport that as­pir­ing wiz­ards in Harry Pot­ter play to prove their prow­ess. None of this is ac­tu­ally part of Google’s pro­gram.

An­other scene sug­gests Google puts a pre­mium on train­ing em­ploy­ees to work a cus­tomer help line. But like many Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies, Google di­rects peo­ple to pe­ruse its on­line help ar­ti­cles or con­sult mes­sage boards.

While the film has some good-na­tured fun at the ex­pense of the in­tel­li­gent odd­balls work­ing at Google, it mostly fo­cuses on the pos­i­tive side of a com­pany whose motto is ‘‘don’t be evil’’.

The In­tern­ship opens to­day.

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