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‘The Interns’ sees comedy couplet Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play a pair of unemployed techno-phobes, who follow a well-trod path and head out west, to the Silicon Valley.
There, they find Google – depicted as corporate America’s equivalent to the Emerald City from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ – and salvation.
For Vaughn, who also penned the film’s script, Google are a colourful success story in what has otherwise between a bleak period of austerity: “Unfortunately, I know a lot of people who didn’t just lose their jobs, but lost everything they did, it just disappeared. At the same time, you’re seeing Google flourishing and making opportunities. Their work environment also looks very different from any work environment I ever saw. I think that is why audiences are really responding to the movie. The movie is very funny and you get to go into this really exciting, other world. It is really about optimism and there is a lot of hope in the film that I think people are going to enjoy.”
Taking product placement to another level, Google’s ever-growing stable of products feature extensively, whilst the word ‘Google’ is twisted into every possible permutation – noun, verb and adjective – and peppers the film’s dialogue. There’s even room for a cameo from Google-founder, Sergey Brin.
Given Google paid nothing for this free advertising, it is perhaps unsurprising to hear their executives happily cooperated throughout the production, inviting cast and crew to their Mountain View headquarters in California.
For director, Shawn Levy, it was a symbiotic relationship: “They thought the notion of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as interns, very age inappropriate interns, at the company, was funny. We made clear that we had to have autonomy over the story and that it might be R-rated. They said they just wanted us to make it funny, warm-hearted and not mean.”
Levy certainly doesn’t let them down. On the contrary, he offers a feature-length hosanna to the company, its products, philosophy and politics. In turn, the film also manages to seamlessly breeze over accusations that Google tramples copyrights, stifles competition and abuses its tax obligations.
Publicity-wise, the film could not have been released at a better time. In the same week Google are being roundly pilloried for allegedly providing the US government with full access to their users’ private data, ‘The Interns’ is available for public viewing.