Hiring Them Was A Brilliant Mistake
I can’t remember the last time an inoffensive comedy angered me so much. Granted, I had low expectations going into the screening but throughout and after the film, I was seething with rage. And it had nothing to do with Google or product placement – despite the fact that Google, Googliness, Noogles, Googlers and several other Google variations are repeated an insane amount of times, until the word loses all meaning. And it’s nothing to do with my complete opposition to internships for the crappy slave labour that they are, favouring well-off students and being something that’s not really done anywhere outside of the US. No, this film made me furious because it cost $58 million dollars to make, despite being the same rundown tired shit we’ve all seen countless times before.
Billy McMahon [Vaughan] and Nick Campbell [Wilson] are two salesmen who discover that their watch selling company is defunct and obsolete with everything being computerised. With few translatable skills, various bills and trouble with women (probably, it’s not explored much), the pair resign themselves to their employment fate. Nick accepts a job at his sister’s boyfriend’s mattress store but Billy is a dreamer and can’t help but aim higher. Enrolling in an online university, Billy convinces Nick that they have a chance if they apply for an internship (that may lead to job) at the headquarters for Google. Knowing little to nothing about computers and less about the young folk, Billy and Nick immediately stand out amidst the 20-22 year old geniuses. With no one wanting to be associated with them, they are left with the other social rejects and form a group of potentials. Their biggest rival, however, is a group led by British elitist Graham Hawtrey [Minghella]. The group is irrelevant. Other than a blonde girl and a fat guy, they are almost never mentioned again. Various hijinks ensue and Nick decides to pursue a relationship with the COMPLETELY UNINTERESTED Dana [Byrne], one of the managers who despite rebuffing Nick may or may not make a complete 180 and sleep with him. Spoiler. She does. It’s fucking retarded.
The writing is absolutely atrocious and every development, scenario and plot point is horribly clichéd. Not only that, it follows a money making formula: take two goofy white male comedians, put them in a situation out of their depth, team them up with the underdogs, have a good time partying, throw in a half-arsed romance element and one comedian worrying that partying isn’t everything, then have them win/save the day in big showy last minute fashion. This film is literally flooded with shit that I find abhorrent and detrimental to the progression of cinema. On top of that, it’s padded out unnecessarily with scenes that go nowhere, hoping various cameos will bear ad-libbing fruit. Prime example of the painfully unfunny ad-libbing: Vaughan and Wilson play salesmen who just talk in the hope they accidentally say something funny. FUCKING SALESMEN! I hate salesmen! I can’t stand when some overly gobby fucker comes up to me believing he’s the cock of the walk and can make me buy something because of his gift of gab. The fact he’s so charming (or she, women do it too) I will simply have to make a purchase, just to earn their friendship.. or respect.. or just to bask in their adoration and social appreciation for but a moment. Fuck you! My will power is immense and I’m not easily swayed by jumped up twats who can’t do an actual job. What’s more insulting, is that the bullshit artists somehow manage to become geniuses overnight! They literally man the Google helpline for an hour using the power of bullshit! I mean, there’s suspension of disbelief (and no doubt I’ll be called out for hating this film but defending Man Of Steel) but enough is enough!
Ok.. sorry about that. I’ll try to show a little more professionalism.
Much like the premise, this story is clearly outdated. Had this movie come out six or seven years ago, it might be funny or at least relevant. But in 2013, with quirky Apple stores popping up everywhere, the greed behind Facebook ripped to shit by The Social Network, MySpace adrift and YouTube littered with annoying adverts, Google isn’t a mystery to us. It’s not some amazing haven of fun and technology and even if it is, it’s still a giant, billion dollar corporation.. according to the pulse of the contemporary populace, we hate those. You might as well have set this film in a high street bank and tried to convince audiences that banks are cool and down with the kids, rather than speculative, money losing morons. Sorry.. professionalism. Gotta stay focused on the film. Other than the start and the predictable finish, the only planned story threads are basic developments that provide a tedious framework for jokes but make no sense when considering an actual company. For example, find the bug in the system coding. Sure, that makes sense for a computer company. Program an algorithm or search the user log history, great. But cinematically boring. So what’s next? A match of Quidditch of course! That’s right, the fictional sport from Harry Potter. How can we follow that? Design a successful app? Tricky but can do. Aww.. but this is hard. Can’t we just go to a strip club and drink excessively? Why, with Vaughan and Wilson, of course you can! One of the very first exercises for these intellectual elites is to raise a red or green paddle in response to the following three questions: Is it acceptable to have a beer with your boss? Is it ok to date other interns? Can you bring food home from the office? Really? That’s important? That’s worth an entire seminar? Just so Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan can squeeze out a few terrible lines of dialogue and they can throw something in the trailer?
With appearances by Rose Byrne, Aasif Mandvi, B.J. Novak, John Goodman, Rob Riggle and Will Ferrell, you’d think somewhere along the line, a half decent character would appear. Unfortunately not. The central cast, however, prove interesting. Looking past the mountain of ego that is the Vaughan/Wilson partnership, we have the other members of the team. Now, I appreciate they fill the tick-box checklist of ‘film groups’ i.e. the awkwardly nerdy one, the shy Asian intellect, the sexy Indian girl who’s actually a virgin (changing things up by ensuring she’s not a white brunette with glasses) and the cool dickhead who just needs to be shown that he can let his guard down and still have a good time. Ok, the characters are all dog shit but the cast have a potential chemistry that make it even more unbearable. Yes, they’re annoying and stupid and their eventual success makes you hate them a little bit more but underneath all that, it’s clear that these people can actually act; which is painful. Finally, there’s Max Minghella. Son of the late Anthony Minghella and a very talented actor. Unfortunately, the script simply calls for him to play a slightly heightened version of his character in The Social Network, so while there are a few smirks and he makes a good high school villain, it doesn’t even seem praiseworthy. Pity.
I don’t even think there’s much point in discussing the technical aspects. The camera work is standard fare, the editing and direction are acceptable and the score is unintrusive, relying on familiar songs that the audience can nod along to. I could blame Shawn Levy for this mess but directorially speaking, it’s not bad. I mean, it’s a bad film and any creative element is awful but the cinematography works, the lighting is grand, the locations, sets, costumes, editing, all work to a commendable and reasonable close that ensured the film made it to international release. I fully appreciate these are not easy things to accomplish and as such, cannot fault them. But anything that required creativity is beyond subpar.
One last rant, then I’ll shut up. I’ve mentioned in reviews before that the geeks, nerds and general outcasts of ten/twenty years ago are now strangely popular.. well, they’re not but the things they like are. But whereas shows like The Big Bang Theory purport to promote such individuals, they are in fact pointing a finger and laughing at them. Geek culture, intelligence and comedy are almost impossible to fake (especially if you have little to no idea what you’re talking about) and the only film that’s actually successfully addressed this little phenomenon was 21 Jump Street. What I didn’t realise until the credits started to roll, is that Vince Vaughan came up with the story, helped write the screenplay and produced the entire thing. The man still thinks he’s making Swingers. He’s still riding the high of the 90’s and is under some delusion that he will remain forever cool because of his infinite energy. Throw in a couple of Game Of Thrones references, talk about Flashdance like it was the greatest film ever made and say bangarang, that’ll hook the kids, right? No, Vince. Your time has passed. Please disappear for a couple of decades and finally reappear as an old, out-of-touch man in an underappreciated TV series… like Chevy Chase.
4th July 2013
The Scene To Look Out For:
For a brief moment, this movie actually has something poignant to say. The team have been asked to create an app and Vaughan’s suggestion is essentially Instagram. Feeling the despondency in the room, Wilson asks why these young early-twenty-somethings are so miserable and cynical? To which, one of them replies that statistically there are no jobs for college graduates, the American dream is literally just a dream, trying for something is no longer an adventure but a financially reckless risk and that this internship is their best hope for success. Vaughan and Wilson, unfamiliar with hard work and believing that being alive in the 70’s makes them tough as nails (clearly they don’t remember the recessions and hard times of the 80’s), suggest that they abandon their work and head to a strip club! Drinks all round! Whoo! A development which only serves to emphasise the point that Wilson and Vaughan are quite literally wasting everybody’s time, both on and off screen. So a chance to talk about taking chances and how the morose current state of affairs shouldn’t deter you from trying is underwritten by Vaughan continually saying “on the line” instead of “online” hoping it will get funnier if he keeps repeating it. And. It. Never. Does.
There’s no hope for Vaughan but considering all his work with Wes Anderson and then Midnight In Paris? Damn it Wilson, you can do better than this!
“What has this got to do with computers!?”
In A Few Words:
“This story’s been repackaged and rebranded so many times and I can’t believe millions of dollars have been spent making the same fucking shit again!”