The Internship: Connecting people to information

The Internship Intl Poster

I watched the internship, nick named the Google movie a while back. If you haven’t seen it, I will warn you there maybe spoilers in this post.

Connecting people to information that’s what we do at Google…

Although I’m aware of some of the problems with Google, specially when it comes to Data collection (although they got nothing on the NSA) I’m somewhat sympathetic to the higher level value. And although I do have certain issues with Google, I’m generally neutral to positive about what they do. Watching the internship, I didn’t expect to be coming out the cinema thinking super positive thoughts.

Theres a number of negative ways you can look at the film…

  1. Sitcom rubbish
  2. Google propaganda
  3. American dream nonsense
  4. An advert for Google, which I paid to watch
  5. An alternative world which doesn’t exist

But while I watched, I enjoyed. Not only that, I was sitting in a cinema with a ton of older people who might actually identify themselves closer to the characters than my internet enabled self.

The internship is a simple hero’s journey film…

Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) are salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital world. Trying to prove they are not obsolete, they defy the odds by talking their way into a coveted internship at Google, along with a battalion of brilliant college students. But, gaining entrance to this utopia is only half the battle. Now they must compete with a group of the nation’s most elite, tech-savvy geniuses to prove that necessity really is the mother of re-invention.

Of course at the end, Billy and Nick gain internships after the rollercoaster journey they take, yada yada

So what surprised me is and made it interesting was…

  1. A strong rally cry for diversity
    This is very strong, and although it can be seen as the usual sitcom setup (look at the big bang theory for example) what makes it intriguing is it being at Google. A place seen as quite elite and somewhat pushy about qualifications and which university you came from? I remember in the early days talk of 7-9 interview rounds and very choosy selections. The idea of a group of quite diverse in age, gender and race in Google, still fills me with an element of oh really?
  2. A emphases on real-world experience
    Most of the film there are great views of the google campus but surprisingly there are lots of scenes outside the campus. At one point the diverse team we’re following through the film are sitting watching the sunrise above the golden gate bridge. One of the characters known for looking at his phone all the time, turns to Nick and says he would like to stay a little longer. Taking in the current/now. Also this is explicitly told when Neha turns to Billy at the strip club (whaaat theres a strip club in the google movie? yeah I know!) and says that despite her rich virtual/fantasy life, she has no real-world experience. This could almost be an advert for schemer.
  3. Ideas from elsewhere
    As said before a good section of the film exists outside the google campus, not only that. There is the notion that ideas come from it rather than just the googleplex. Lyle’s drunken antics inspire the team to create an app that guards against reckless phone usage while drunk. Theres also lots of references to the knowledge characters have from previous experiences, as you’d expect I guess.
  4. The fact there is a scene in a strip club
    This shocked me, not only was there a scene in a strip club but some of the strippers were actually topless. Although this is part and parcel of a sitcom, I didn’t imagine google would be that comfortable with this? Theres even a small joke about one of the guys who ends up in the toilet drying himself under the hand dryer for obvious reasons. Once again part of parcel of a Vince Vaughn sitcom but not what I expected Google or even most corporations to let slide.
  5. And not just one but two relationships
    So you got all this real good memes about diversity, real world experience mixed up with in a sitcom and then they throw in not just one but two love stories. Nick casing a geek sexy Dana and Lyle getting his geeky charm on with Marielena. We’re not talking an episode of Dates but the thread of love is nicely handled. Lyle’s love interest also highlights the just be yourself quality too.
    Yes could be corny and talk about the non-love relationships between characters like Headphones tutoring Billy but thats best left alone.

The internship surprises and puts a smile on your face. It certainly warms the relationship with google, which I guess is the main point. If Vince Vaughn convinced Google of that fact, then he succeeded. The film will feel dated in years to come and is never going to win any awards but with a IMDB rating of about 6.3 its certainly way above most sitcoms and even most films out there.

Oh by the way, although Tiya Sircar as Princess Leia was funny. I would rather have seen more of Geeky Dana… Oh Google if only you were using Perceptive Media eh?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.