Vince Vaughan and Luke Wilson seem to bring a certain energy to their
partnership, which is evident during their latest collaboration in “The
This is not rolling-in-the-aisle funny,
but there is a certain ironic humor throughout.
And there’s definitely something spot-on about the subject matter.
) and Nick (
) are two career salesmen who suddenly find themselves without jobs, because
the watch company they were working for went out of business (everybody uses
cell phones now). They’re
forty-ish, and a little young to be cultural dinosaurs, but they find that
their skill set is not very marketable. Nick’s
sister finds him a job selling mattresses at the store owned by her sleazy
husband, and Nick feels so doubly demeaned, to need his sister’s help and to
have to work for her dirt bag spouse who keeps hitting on the customers.
Billy is not faring much better. His
girlfriend has left him because, she says, she’s tired of being let down.
In his Internet surfing he comes across a notice from Google, the giant
tech firm, advertising for summer interns, and Billy immediately convinces
Nick to apply together. Their
quirkiness may not be next to “Googliness,” but they at least get a shot.
Alas, when they arrive at the gleaming
headquarters, they find that everybody else is younger---much younger.
And tech-savvy. They find
themselves on a “team” with 3 other hopefuls, all brilliant, all
techno-nerds, all wondering how these two “older” guys are ever going to
be of any use to the team during the cutthroat competitions.
At first, Billy and Nick are so out of their element that they find it
difficult even speaking the same language as the rest, because the cultural
references are so different. Billy
and Nick make reference to Alanis Morissette songs (like “Ironic” 1995),
and the movie “Flashdance” (1983). The
others are referencing comic book heroes like Batman, or else “Ender’s
Game” (a book and video series not yet released on film), or a video game
unfamiliar to Billy and Nick. One
of the competitions involves a game of quidditch, itself a Harry Potter
reference which Billy and Nick don’t get, either.
Yes, and the young ones are constantly “plugged in,” and seem to
know about writing programming code. But
they are painfully lacking in social skills.
And this, at last, is where Billy and Nick can make a contribution.
They can team-build. They
can encourage everyone, and value everyone’s contribution.
And yes, they can show these youngsters how to let go every once in a
while and just have a good time, together.
Not everything in life is about working harder.
OK, it’s kind of hokey. But
it kind of works. Those of us who
have lived long enough to enjoy the privilege of being considered outmoded
will recognize the dynamics of somehow simultaneously feeling that the world
has passed you by, but also continuing to insist that you still have something
to offer, that there’s still some gas in the tank.
It’s not exactly The Triumph of the Old School, but it is a subtle
suggestion that we all need each other. Even
if some of us have never played quidditch.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St.
Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,