Opinion

At the Movies

The Internship Directed by Shawn Levy

The best thing I can say about “The Internship” is that it’s better than I was expecting. It’s not great but I was expecting it to be annoying based on previews and the basic concept. Frankly, the idea of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as interns at Google, romping around campus sounded pretty lame to me. I’ve enjoyed both of these actors in other projects, on and off, with this sounding like more of an off than an on.

 

But it’s actually quite light and breezy at times, largely because of the supporting cast surrounding the stars. It’s essentially a geekfest in a remarkably upbeat style, devoid of almost all mean-spiritedness. We’re laughing along with the characters here rather than laughing at them, to the extent that we’re laughing at all.

 

I have no idea what an actual internship at Google is like but, at a time when employers are stressing how much weight they put on students’ internship experiences, what we see in the movie is more like a reality show or game show than most actual internships. Vaughn and Wilson are out of work salesmen, actual face to face, old school salesmen of the cinematic dinosaur variety, unemployed and adrift in an increasingly virtual world. They’re even more out of place after the unlikely outcome of securing their internship placement and find themselves alongside the other outsiders who weren’t sought out during the intern team picking exercise. Which is odd as the other three members of the team are actually pretty desirable and talented, just not especially outgoing.

 

And it’s these three young actors (Dylan O’Brien, Tiya Sircar, Tobit Raphael), and their unlikely Google manager leader (Josh Brener), who make this fun to watch. They’re geeks but they’re attractive and amusing geeks as Hollywood likes to picture them – and the personal growth situations they’re thrown into never quite get entirely out of hand. It’s relatively safe comedy, albeit with some adult/older teen themes thrown in.

 

In a week with holdover action and sci-fi movies and before the release of “Man of Steel” next week, a light comedy might actually make sense.

 

The Purge Directed by James DeMonaco

There’s nothing light about “The Purge” – a thriller set in a not too distant future, in which a new American government (and “New Founding Fathers”) have designated an annual 12 hour period (The Purge) during which nothing is illegal (except killing government officials). It’s billed by the powers that be as a grand exercise in stress management, with alternative explanations describing it as a cull of the unemployed and indigent, with a resultant rise in economic fortunes and productivity.

 

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the movie is that the writer/director felt comfortable setting it only nine years in the future. While this makes it a cheaper film, without the need for distant futuristic effects and technology, it’s also premised on the idea that things might be seen to be so bad to audiences now that such an extreme outcome could be conceived of in such a short space of time. Especially given that we’re told that in 2022, this has been going on for several years already. In that regard, it shares the problem of “The Hunger Games” in that it wants us to believe that the majority are simply OK with the new rules, or at least not disturbed enough to try and change them.

 

I read an interview a couple of days ago in which Ethan Hawke, the lead actor of “The Purge,” praised the abilities and talent of Nicolas Cage. He readily admitted that Cage had made some poor choices in roles, mixing as little “too much water in the beer” as Hawke put it, and cited specific films that probably wouldn’t make Cage’s retrospective reel if he put it together himself (think “Ghost Rider”). What was odd was that I had been thinking the same thing recently about Hawke’s career and choices with films like this and the recent “Sinister” and “Daybreakers” not exactly classing up what at times has been a pretty impressive resume. And he appears to be shooting for action hero status in the upcoming “Getaway” about a former racecar driver being forced to drive for an unseen villain in order to save his own wife. All of which could easily have been questionable Cage projects.

 

“The Purge” is a very simple, bloody, and almost instantly forgettable, no-holds-barred home invasion thriller. It’s also a cautionary tale about not pissing off your neighbors. But it’s a film even Hawke might characterize as more water than beer.

 

 

Other film news
After a couple of nights of hosting the Sacramento Gay Men’s Chorus “ExtrABBAganza”, the Crest Theatre gets back to special screenings this week. There’s one extra chance to see “Bill W.” about the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (reviewed here last October) on Monday, marking the 78th anniversary of AA. And then a one night screening of “SPARK: A Burning Man Story” about the annual festival in the Nevada Desert, which “…takes us behind the curtain with Burning Man organizers and participants, revealing a year of unprecedented challenges and growth.” Also, mark your calendars in advance for the always excellent Sacramento French Film Festival being held at the Crest on two upcoming weekends: June 21-23 and June 28-30. As always, more information is at thecrest.com.


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