The Arty Semite

The Banality of Movies About Google

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange stole my intended headline for this post: “The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil.’” Or maybe it was a New York Times copy editor, who gave that title to Assange’s opinion piece accusing Google of technocratic imperialism. Either way, now I can’t use it for fear of plagiarism… or at least, a perceived lack of creativity.

The headline, a riff on the search giant’s motto, would have been perfect to sum up my impression of the new comedy, “The Internship.” “Wedding Crashers” duo Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play nearing-middle age buddies and out-of-work analog-era watch salesmen, who manage to get into Google’s internship program, improbably prove themselves (who says you can’t teach an old dog some new hi-tech tricks?), and teach a group of geeky misfit college students some life lessons along the way. The movie is such a banal, formulaic and predictable comedy that it most certainly did not merit rushing to catch an advance screening at a movie theater located literally next to the Google campus in Mountain View, California.

I guess I was hoping for a meta-experience akin to the one I had while watching “The Social Network” at the very same theater, which is also not far from Facebook headquarters. But then again, what was I thinking? This is a story co-written by Vince Vaughn and directed by Shawn Levy of “Night at the Museum” and “Date Night” fame. Director David Fincher, Academy and Emmy Award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin and Oscar-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg came nowhere near this production.

While I really should have waited for “The Internship” to come out on Netflix, I can’t say it was all bad. Generously speaking, it was a Breakfast Club-kids-meet-goofy-but-wise-older-mentors kind of thing. I did let out a few laughs as I watched the movie, but they weren’t worth $11.25 plus overpriced popcorn, candy and drink.

Google product placement is the name of the game in this film (think Gmail, Google Plus, Google Wallet, Google Maps, etc.). But if you are hoping to get a real sense of the Silicon Valley vibe and the insider scoop on Google culture, you’re going to be disappointed. Although the “Noogler” intern beanie caps (with propeller), the free-food cafes, nap pods, free-for-the-using colorful bikes and collaborative team approach to solving challenges are reflective of the real Google, nothing else in the movie seems to ring true — including the setting. I kept looking at what was presented as the Google campus and thinking, “That looks more like a college campus that the Google campus” — and for good reason. It turns out that almost all the filming took place at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

But the two cameo appearances (one speaking, one not) by Google co-founder Sergey Brin were kind of fun for those of us who know what he looks like and are able to spot him as he zooms by on a bike for a split second. Those scenes were filmed during the few days the crews did shoot on the real Google campus.

And one final word of warning: Take that PG-13 rating seriously. I took two middle school boys along with me to see “The Internship,” and had to explain to them that not all internship programs involve spending all night out in San Francisco getting drunk with almost-naked pole dancers giving non-stop lap dances.

Watch the trailer for ‘The Internship’:


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Internship, Renee Ghert-Zand, Film, Owen Wilson, Google, Vince Vaughn

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Ari Folman's new movie 'The Congress' is a brilliant spectacle, an exhilarating visual extravaganza and a slapdash thought experiment. It's also unlike anything Forward critic Ezra Glinter has ever seen. http://jd.fo/d4unE
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.