People who don’t like Nancy Meyers films are most likely the same people who would never like a photo on Instagram with a Lark or Earlybird filter. Or, they may not belong to the demographic that uses Instagram. When it comes to aesthetics and storytelling, “The Intern” is not altogether unlike Meyers’ previous films: “It’s Complicated,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” and the classic, “Father of the Bride.” They’re likable, vanilla. You know what you’re going to get and be satisfied with the result.
“The Intern” tells the Brooklyn tale of a young girlboss, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), who runs a rapidly-growing ecommerce clothing business ala Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso. Her wardrobe is enviable. Her work space filled with eager, hoodie-wearing interns and the cream of the crop of creative minds to help her build her empire. She barely eats or sleeps, but still manages to join her husband and daughter for her breakfast and deal with the judgmental nods towards working moms.
As part of an internal program suggested and promptly forgotten, senior interns are hired, as in senior citizens. Among the hopefuls is Ben (Robert De Niro), a widower who spends his time doing tai chi in the park, attending friends’ funerals, and fighting off boredom. Once hired, he brings his old school work ethic into the fast-paced, technology-driven environment and is nothing, if not polite and available to provide his services and advice whenever and wherever possible. He literally makes everyone slow their pace.
At first, Ben’s keen observations rile Jules, but with time, he wins her over and she comes to rely on him for advice on assigning a CEO for her company. This the base of the story. What fills in the space is the handling of day-to-day life from the perspective of people on both ends of the career spectrum. Oh, and life lessons.
One unshakable factor is the underlying message of societal pressures for women who want a full-time career and also be hands-on moms. We praise girlbosses who pave the ways for others to “have it all.” However, with the film’s twist that affects Jules and her husband near the end of the movie, it’s sad to see the strong female character choose to be smaller for the sake of a man.
But in true Meyers’ fashion, “The Intern” is enjoyable, but forgettable. Nicely wrapped up just in time for the closing credits. Proving that in certain cases, basic is still the preferential flavor.