Google it for gags
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.