The world in a Nancy Meyer film is so appealing. Her characters wear the best fashions, they live in gorgeous homes and they have fulfilling careers. Like a Nicholas Sparks’ film, you either like Meyer’s style or you don’t. On the same lines as her other confections ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ and ‘It’s Complicated,’ Meyers explores the struggles of highly successful women with a touch of humor. ‘The Intern’ is delightful to watch since the chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro feels so genuine. Besides being a charming story, it perceptively delves into the generational gap as well as the importance women play in today’s workforce while juggling the responsibilities of parenthood.
The story centers on Jules Ostin (Hathaway), a young CEO of a tech startup company that sells clothing online to women. She is in charge of 200 employees in a renovated brick building with headquarters in Brooklyn. Impeccably dressed, Jules looks straight out of ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ Hathaway is adorable in the lead role as she uses a bike to speed off from one business meeting to the next. She’s a friendly boss whose only crime is that she spreads herself too thin. When she gets too stressed out, you just want to give her a hug of encouragement. Not only does she run a highly successful e-commerce site but lives in a tony brownstone with her precocious daughter (JoJo Kushner) and her neglected Mr. Mom hubby (Anders Holm). Everyone worries that Jules’ workaholic lifestyle is depriving her of sleep and proper nutrition.
Enter Ben Whittaker (De Niro), a 70-year-old recent widower and retired business executive. Ben is bored with doing Tai Chi in the park and taking vacations alone. He wants to get back into the office. That’s when he sees a flyer for senior interns at Jules’ startup company. This is De Niro like you’ve never seen him. He’s a nice guy that carries himself with confidence and a soothing aura. He can get a laugh with a facial gesture. The first day at the office, Ben is dismissed as an old relic by the millennial staff. He is assigned as Jules’ personal assistant only as a way for her to set a good example for the employees. As he waits for an email from her, something begins to change around the office. Ben slowly makes a difference with his wisdom and strong work ethic. He’s also well-groomed compared to the twentysomethings that work around him in sloppy casual business attire. When Jules’ regular chauffeur becomes undependable, it opens the door for Ben to shine as a trustworthy mentor and eventual friend.
The real magic starts when Jules lets down her guard with Ben. It’s nice to see a friendship between a young woman and older man that doesn’t lead to the bedroom. Everyone is aware of Hathaway’s acting chops but this role allows us to peek at her skilled comedic timing too. There is a scene where Jules is taking shots of tequila and she gives some advice to her male underlings. She uses Ben as an example regarding how real men should carry themselves. He represents the lost art of chivalry as he explains to one of the guys why he always totes around a handkerchief in his suit pocket. There’s another scene where Ben accompanies Jules on a business trip to San Francisco. It’s a great scene as Jules opens up emotionally and cries on Ben’s shoulder. Ben could easily take advantage of the situation but that’s why this film is so endearing. He never tries to sleep with her. He genuinely admires her accomplishments and feels that she is setting a great example for other women to pursue their dreams. He never believes for a minute that she should feel guilty about her success and that’s a theme Meyer’s eloquently preaches in ‘The Intern.’
Some may dismiss ‘The Intern’ as just another chick flick. It’s certainly a frothy comedy but Meyer’s smartly explores the struggles of women balancing their career and family. ‘The Intern’ is a delectable bonbon to kick off the fall movie season. Check out the official trailer https://youtu.be/ZU3Xban0Y6A.