Well, at least the kitchens look nice. Academy Award winners Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway star in The Intern.
Director – Nancy Meyers
Screenplay – Nancy Meyers
Producer – Suzanne Farwell & Nancy Meyers
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language
Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) is a retired widower who’s become somewhat bored by retirement. Wanting to get active again, Ben applies for a position in a “Senior Intern Program” for a Brooklyn e-commerce company called “About the Fit” and eventually earns a spot as the intern for the company’s founder Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).
And then all sorts of easily solvable white people problems ensue.
The Intern is a movie that honestly doesn’t need to be reviewed, ’cause it’s a Nancy Meyers film, and if you’ve seen one Nancy Meyers film, then you’ve seen every single other one of them.
End of story.
Okay, I’ll expound a little bit more.
As I said, this is writer/director Nancy Meyers, whose previous works include writing Private Benjamin, Baby Boom, the Father of the Bride films, as well as writing and directing Lindsay Lohan remake of The Parent Trap, What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and It’s Complicated. Despite what that last film title might suggest, none of her films are complicated at all. They’re the feel good of all feel good films, so you better sit back, brace yourself and bring a bottle of Ibuprofen with you ’cause she’s gonna bludgeon you to death with the fluffiest throw pillow she can find.
And, yes, it’s probably one of the many fluffy throw pillows she adorns each of her characters’ unrealistically glamorous homes with.
There’s honestly not much to say here. The Intern is trademark Nancy Meyers light and sweet and so sugary sweet it should come with a video disclaimer from Wilford Brimley at the beginning strongly encouraging all viewers to get tested for “diabeetus” afterward. But I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t hate this movie, ’cause I was won over enough, even if just barely, by the charm of both Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway.
To be fair, I can totally understand arguments both for and against this film, with me landing somewhere in the middle. I’m probably beating a dead horse by now, but this isn’t high art in any way, shape or form. Every plot-dictating problem, including a superfluous affair that I predicted the very moment I saw Hathaway’s milquetoast stay-at-home husband pop up, gets so neatly wrapped up in a nice, clean, perfectly symmetrical bow that the film’s practically OCD about them all. No one is more unfamiliar with the word challenging than Meyers, and you know this film’s gonna breeze through all its issues when the most difficult hardship anyone has to face here is Hathaway fretting over a bunch of empty boxes on a workplace table.
Add in an awkward, midpoint riffing on the Ocean’s Eleven heist, and it’s understandable as to why some might hate this. Getting your ass kicked by so much gorgeous interior design and contrived fluffy white loveliness isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
At the same time, though, I can also understand why someone would get caught up in this ’cause both Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro are great together. No, these definitely aren’t the most challenging roles of their careers (for some reason, all the employees act like Jules is “Miranda Priestly v. 2.0” when she really just comes off as a bit high-strung and overworked), but the chemistry between them is strong and even if they don’t outright save the movie, watching these two pros interact did lighten the blow of what could’ve been a very painful cuteness beatdown.
Don’t let it fool you; cute can be a real bitch to your fragile state of emotions.
De Niro is especially great here in an age-appropriate performance that breaks away from the phoned-in tough guy Focker act he’s been milking for the past decade (Being Flynn and Silver Linings Playbook are two noteworthy exceptions). While the premise’s generational themes don’t go beyond skin deep – duh… it’s a Nancy Meyers movie – and it’s unfortunate that not enough time is devoted to De Niro’s relationship with Rene Russo (sadly underused here), this is the most relaxed and restrained I’ve seen De Niro in years, at least for a film not tagged as “a David O. Russell film”.
Also, as much as I’ve harped on the cloying nature of Meyers’s screenwriting, I do give her credit for not falling prey to the temptation of making Ben some tech-illiterate Methuselah. There are a number of other writers that I know would’ve taken the bait and played up the yuk-yuk “old man’s an idiot with a computer” gags, but it’s nice that Ben proves to be of use to the company, despite his prime working years having come years before the online generation (even a moment where Ben finally makes a Facebook profile feels authentic and isn’t just some cheap punchline about how out of touch he is).
Like any Nancy Meyers film that has come before and will come after it, The Intern offers no surprises whatsoever. It’s all trademark Meyers wonderful, the kind of wonderful that demands you feel good or die. Yet despite the predictability and some pointless story threads that vary between pointless filler and artificial means of developing character (yeah, I’m looking at you, affair), The Intern manages to stay afloat thanks to the pleasant rapport between Anne Hathaway and a refreshingly understated Robert De Niro.
I give The Intern a C (★★½).
REVIEWS COMING LATER NEXT WEEK…
9/28/15 What the Hell Were They Thinking?!
9/29/15 Benjamin’s Stash
9/30/15 Top 10 Baseball Films of All-Time
10/2/15 The Martian
10/3/15 The Walk