Co-writer and star Vince Vaughn brings us what is basically a remake of his “Old School,” a sort of “Revenge of the Un-Nerds” with a little “Legally Blonde,” and a lot from pretty much every story about a group of assorted losers who show the cool kids how it’s done.
Vaughn and his “Wedding Crashers” bro-star Owen Wilson play Billy and Nick, best pals and partners in selling the ultimate in old-school technology, luxury watches. When their company goes under — even the receptionist uses her phone to check the time — it is clear that even the ability to “sell prosciutto to a rabbi,” remembering to compliment the buyer on his daughter’s gymnastics achievements, and a “Get Psyched ” mix with fist-pumping sing-alongs to Alanis Morrisette is no longer a sustainable business model.
It is also clear, with an Adam Sandler-esque notion that any mention of pop culture between 1980-95 is automatically endearing and funny, a complete waste of John Goodman and Will Ferrell, and a dumb joke about a child’s weight that no one is shooting very high, here. It has a numbingly predictable comeback-setback-comeback structure. But as dumb fun, it’s not too bad.
To the surprise of no one who has seen the title, our good-natured but immature watch salesmen apply for the intensely competitive internships at Google. To the surprise of no one who knows anything about the control freaks at Google or the concessions one must make to use the logo and setting of a real-life corporation, Google is portrayed very, very favorably. And to the surprise of anyone who’s ever seen a movie before, Billy and Nick prove themselves to be completely clueless losers but then, when they are put on the team of outcasts, their team spirit and oddball skills will save the day. Even if you haven’t, the English accent of the arrogant bad guy (nicely icy Max Minghella) is kind of a giveaway.
It is all pretty tired, with its fat jokes and crotch hits, and “Flashdance” pep-talks. Then there is an extended portrayal of a drunken visit to a pole-dancing club with lap-dances (three separate shots of the nerd-boy frantically trying to use the hand-dyer on the crotch of his pants) as the ultimate signifier of liberation and empowerment. And really, when will they notice that women can be funny, too? Rose Byrne, so magnificent in “Bridesmaids,” is relegated to the “hyper-competent girl who needs to slow down and enjoy life” role. Vaughn has made a movie about having the courage to adapt to change that is itself stuck in the 90’s. What word would Alanis Morrisette use about that?
Parents should know that this film includes very crude and raunchy humor, strong and vulgar language and explicit sexual references, pole dancers, lap dancing, drinking and drunkenness (portrayed as liberating), and drug humor.
Family discussion: What would be your answer to the blender question? Ask the people in your family about their toughest job interviews.
If you like this, try: “Old School” and “Legally Blonde”