Writer and director Nancy Meyers pretty much has the pleasant, watchable comedy genre down to a science. The majority of her films, whether it be “The Holiday”, “Something’s Got to Give”, or even the 1998 “Parent Trap” remake, are immensely enjoyable and—this is a trait that not a lot of movies have—rewatchable. Her latest movie, “The Intern” is no different, despite its flaws.
“The Intern” follows Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a seventy-year-old retired business and widower who is fed up with retirement. He needs something that he can get up and do every morning; so when he finds a flyer for a startup fashion site called About the Fit looking for senior interns, he applies immediately, despite not knowing virtually anything about technology. Thanks to his solid work experience, he is hired and assigned to be a personal intern to company founder Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Jules, however, is so busy and scatter-brained with running the company, that she initially can’t find anything for Ben to do. He gradually begins helping her more and more though, from driving her to and from work to taking some of the more heavy-duty work off her plate, to helping her with her struggling home life, as she barely ever sees her stay-at-home husband Matt (Anders Holm) and young daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner).
There’s not much by way of plot. The main conflict seems to be whether or not Jules should hire a seasoned CEO to come in and relieve some of her workload, or continue to run things herself, as she wants to do. That’s actually not much of a conflict at all, but the film is less about that than about the people, and it’s hard to go wrong with such well-drawn characters and such likable actors playing them. Ben quickly becomes a sort of uncle to everyone at the office, from helping them with work tasks to doling out relationship advice to even inviting one of the younger interns to come stay with him when he can’t afford his own place. He is, as Jules says part of a dying breed: courteous, always wears a suit and tie to work even when the dress code is casual, and always carries a hankie. He’s easily one of De Niro’s most likable characters to date, and it’s apparent even from the very first scenes in the movie, which serve as Ben’s introductory video when he applies to About the Fit. We see him describing to the camera why he can’t stand retirement and why he would be perfect for the job, and it’s funny and heart-warming and there’s an immediate connection made between him and the audience.
Likewise, Hathaway is a perfect fit for Jules. She plays her so that she’s never unlikable, despite sometimes acting a little crazy and doing some not-so-likeable things. It’s obvious that she cares about the company (the first scene we see her in, she is taking a customer service phone call herself) and her family, and is torn by having to juggle both. Hathaway nails both the comedic scenes and the more dramatic scenes without getting overly weepy. She and De Niro have excellent chemistry throughout, as their working relationship begins tentatively, but gradually evolves into a deep friendship. The supporting cast is great as well, and includes Rene Russo as the company’s house masseuse Fiona, who begins dating Ben, and Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, and Jason Orley as Jason, Davis, and Lewis, some of Ben’s younger coworkers who soon befriend him.
“The Intern” starts off strong, and while at first it seems like all the jokes will be poking fun at clueless old people trying to use technology, that cliché is soon left behind. The film flounders a bit in the second half though as a result of some jarring shifts in tone. For instance, there’s a scene in which Jules accidentally sends a blasphemous email about her mom to her mom, and enlists Ben, Jason, Davis, and Lewis to break into her mom’s house and delete it from her computer before she gets home from work and sees it. It’s a complete farce that’s totally unnecessary to the plot and way more ridiculous than any other part of the film, and yet it is hysterical. But not too long after that, we find out that (spoiler alert) Jules’ husband Matt is having an affair. Jules knows, but doesn’t know how to deal with it. It’s at that point that the film becomes unnecessarily dramatic, and the resolution of that conflict is a little unrealistically sweet. It is refreshing, however, to see a script that takes such a feminist standpoint, saying that yes, it is okay for a woman to be successful and have a family too.
“The Intern” is a pleasurable movie that distracts from the fact that it doesn’t have a strong story behind it with charismatic characters and a hilarious and heartfelt script. It’s enjoyable to watch, and I bet it will be enjoyable to watch again and again.
Runtime: 121 minutes. Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language.
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre