With The Internship, director Shawn Levy saw the film as a chance to further show the world the magic that is the comic chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Levy phoned Movie Fanatic for an exclusive interview and told us the two were waiting for the right project that would be as different from their 2005 smash as possible.
“My feeling was on one hand, obviously we’re re-teaming a very famous duo from Wedding Crashers and with this premise -- it was a different kind of tone. It’s Google. I thought it was silly for it to be racy for its own sake. There’s something hopeful and heartwarming about this movie,” Levy said.
Most things in comedy are hard to quantify, but we got Levy to try to put a finger on what it is about the Vaughn and Wilson tandem that works so well.
“It certainly has to do with the contrast. All great comedy duos have a tonal contrast. Vince and Owen, right down to the way that they look, the way that they talk, the rhythms of their speech, the tones of their voices, are so different. Somehow they combine in a funny way,” Levy said.
The pair also cherishes each other on many levels and that clearly shows on every frame of film, even in the little shown in The Internship trailer.
“They love to make each other laugh. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. In real life and in a scene, they love to make each other laugh. There’s genuine affection between these guys. We’ll do the script, but they are both talented writers and both go off road and try different material in the interest of finding the best possible joke, scene and ultimately… making the other dude laugh.”
As the father of three, he knew The Internship should come in less crass than Wedding Crashers, but still mature enough that it would go over young kids’ heads.
“I am the family man. I know what it means to make movies that the whole family can see and I would not put it in that category. Certainly, my six-year-old will not be coming to this movie. But, my eleven and thirteen-year-old daughters have seen it and they love it. They love that it combines an aspirational comedic tone with a glimpse of a world that they’ve heard about and is a part of their lives. But, few of us get to go and get a glimpse from the inside.”
The Internship follows the story of Vaughn’s Billy and Wilson’s Nick, who in the opening moments of the film we learn are some seriously talented salesmen. But, they are also dinosaurs and soon after that opening scene, the duo are fired as their business is closing. Wondering what to do next, the duo throw caution into the wind and try to get a job at Google -- teased in this The Internship clip.
Levy tells us that the tech giant was not only integral to getting the film made, but respectful when it comes to the creative process of making movies.
“Google was really helpful, but I have to tell you, what was more impressive than their helpfulness was the fact that they really honored their word. I told them up front that it was going to be funny. I didn’t know if it would be rated R or PG-13, but it was going to be irreverent. It was going to poke fun at a lot of aspects of Google culture, as well as the characters. And it would not be mean-spirited. Once those promises were made, I needed real creative autonomy,” Levy said.
“I was impressed that they helped me when I asked for help getting the details right, but they made good on their promise to let the filmmakers make the film. Very frankly, they were very trusting. The movie isn’t a documentary about Google. There are a lot of things about it that are not quite accurate. But, they seemed pleased in the end that I captured something of the ethos of this company that rings true for them.”
Levy believes that The Internship is equally hilarious, heartfelt and at the same time inspirational and timely.
“I have friends who are in their early forties, who suddenly have no sense of security that everything they’ve worked for is going to hold out. They don’t think their retirement or jobs will be there for the long term. So, it felt like a timeliness to some part of the premise,” Levy admitted.
At the same time, as the father of two pre-teen daughters who know that they can go to the great schools and they can get good grades, and they can come out of school with no certainty about getting jobs – the film also plays to their feelings about the future.
“It’s why we wrote that scene in the movie where there is a generation of twenty-somethings talking to these guys who are forty, and both generations are intercepting in a moment of insecurity,” Levy said.
“It’s a movie ultimately, what we’ve gotten from people consistently, is that it is feel good and inspirational, and I think it has something to do with this group of interns -- these two generations (the younger led by Teen Wolf star Dylan O'Brien) -- who start off with a lot of mutual mistrust and skepticism, and they end up intersecting and collaborating between the generations that makes the movie resonate to a wide range of people. It’s hard to capture in a movie trailer or movie commercial. But, everyone who sees the movie is real clear on what the movie is.”
Levy himself is an impressive study in a directing career. His cinematic inspiration is as good as it gets. “The role models for me are guys like Ron Howard, who really over the course of a career have genuine genre variety and diversity. Yet, a Ron Howard movie is always going to be humanist, it’s always going to be uncynical and warm-hearted and have great performances. Sometimes he paints on a big canvas, sometimes it’s a small one, like Frost/Nixon,” Levy said.
Levy has gone from making the Night at the Museum movies to Real Steel and now The Internship and is clearly on his way to a Howard-like career of diversity.
“To go from Real Steel to The Internship to this movie I’m making now, This Is Where I Leave You -- which is a family comedy -- I feel really privileged that I’m getting to have the career that I dreamed of, which is a career that is varied and eclectic."