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Google Interns; Joss Whedon’s Shakespeare: Movies

'Much Ado About Nothing'
Amy Acker and Jillian Morgesen as Beatrice and Hero in "Much Ado About Nothing." The film is directed by Joss Whedon. Photographer: Elsa Guillet-Chapuis/Roadside Attractions via Bloomberg

Nothing is forced in Joss Whedon’s modern-dress, black-and-white version of “Much Ado About Nothing.” He filmed it in the kind of Southern California mansion that a modern prince might live in. (It’s his own house.)

After the initial shock of the language, the Renaissance diction sounds like what the irresistible young American actors have been speaking since day one. Every generation finds its own way into Shakespeare.

Yes, that’s the same Joss Whedon who directed “The Avengers” and created “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” His “Much Ado” is sozzled (the wine flows), silly and, briefly, when it has to be, brutal. Except for some mugging during the eavesdropping scenes (which are funny nevertheless), it all feels true.

“Much Ado About Nothing,” from Lionsgate, is playing in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Rating: ****1/2 (Seligman)

‘Wish You Were Here’

Your worst vacation, multiplied by ten, wouldn’t come close to the gone-wrong trip that fuels the taut Australian mystery thriller “Wish You Were Here.”

An impressive first feature from director Kieran Darcy-Smith, “Wish” quickly establishes its premise -- four 30-something Australians take an unplanned holiday to Cambodia, but only three have returned home.

Joel Edgerton (“The Great Gatsby”) and Felicity Price (who co-wrote the screenplay with her director husband) play Dave and Alice, whose seemingly solid marriage -- she’s pregnant with their third child -- begins to unravel as details of the Cambodian mystery surface.

In vacation flashbacks, we see the couple, along with Alice’s younger sister, Steph (Teresa Palmer), and her handsome new boyfriend, Jeremy (Antony Starr), enjoying the South Asian beaches and street markets, an air of First World privilege setting an unsettling mood.

Things turn more sinister at a late-night, Ecstasy-fueled outdoor rave, with Dave later stumbling home bare chested, dazed and bloodied, Jeremy having gone missing.

Intriguing as they are, the flashbacks are secondary to the film’s Australia-set storyline, as the once-cozy domesticity crumbles under the strain of a police investigation, tawdry secrets revealed and Dave’s haunted paranoia.

I’ve given nothing away here -- the truth of the drunken night arrives late and all but impossible to foresee. A rather pat coda feels rushed, and neither the director nor the fine cast goes out of their way to make any of the foursome particularly likeable.

But even at its slowest, the insinuating “Wish You Were Here” keeps its grip, like a dream you just can’t shake.

“Wish You Were Here,” from eONE Films, is playing in New York. Rating: ***1/2 (Evans)

‘The Internship’

The people at Google are supposed to be smart, right? So how did they get their corporate logo bound to “The Internship,” a grim comedy that snickers at the hopeless job prospects of older Americans?

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play watch salesmen who, when their company closes (because smartphones have rendered watches useless), land unlikely summer internships at Google. The program requires them to compete for the few permanent positions against an army of whiz kids who sneer at them.

Party Animals

They deserve to be sneered at: They’re morons. Online culture is so beyond their grasp that for “online” they say “on the line.” But the movie (directed by Shawn Levy, from a script by Vaughn and Jared Stern) tries to sell them as lovable party animals who awaken the nerds to the thrill of being alive.

Which means taking the kids to a strip club, getting them drunk and starting a brawl.

Underneath the cloddishness and squalor lies something sadder: a terror of aging. A sequence set in a retirement community cracks wheelchair jokes and sinks to the level of mocking old women who still think about sex.

The come-on is Google; the sensibility is Adam Sandler.

“The Internship,” from 20th Century Fox, is playing across the U.S. Rating: No stars (Seligman)

What the Stars Mean:

***** Fantastic
**** Excellent
*** Good
** So-So
* Poor
(No stars) Avoid

(Greg Evans and Craig Seligman are critics for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are their own.)

Muse highlights include Zinta Lundborg’s NYC Weekend and Lewis Lapham’s podcast.

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