The Intern (2015)
dir. Nancy Meyers
written by: Nancy Meyers
starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Adam Devine, Andrew Rannells, Mary Kay Place
2.5 out of 4 stars
Why can Anne Hathaway not play a generally happy person? She won an Oscar for playing a distraught, diseased prostitute in Les Miserables, and she had another nomination for a recovering addict in Rachel Getting Married. She can do animated voice work, played Catwoman with more conviction and precision than I could have anticipated, and was the only character in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland who managed to do justice to her part. However, give her a role like those in The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries, or Ella Enchanted and she drops the big, pretty, enthusiastic ball. Yet again, the enthusiastic if overcommitted Jules in The Intern lands her into this position.
In The Intern, Jules’ company, a rapidly growing online clothing company, is developing a large client base and is growing well beyond expectations. As CEO, Jules attempts to have her hand in everything from customer services to overbooking herself on meetings. She is so busy that she forgets about an entire senior intern program she suggested. Among the senior citizens joining the team is Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a retired businessman seeking someplace to go and feel productive again. Diving into everything while awaiting instructions from Jules that never come, Ben becomes the office dad mentor the bright but poorly dressed denizens of their hipster Brooklyn offices.
Nancy Meyers delivers an amusing script that she again directs herself. Like her previous ventures Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated, The Intern focuses on her older adults. Unlike those films, this one focuses on an older male and only vaguely regarding his love life, leaving that part to Jules to deal with balancing her home life with a stay-at-home dad husband and a young daughter. Rather, Ben spends his time being the life of an otherwise hipster-lite atmosphere
Robert DeNiro provides exactly the strong performance in a lackluster movie five decades into his career. Seasoned in Coppola and coke fueled Scorsese, Nancy Meyers unchallenging movie allows DeNiro’s inner grandfather to shine, offering the non-mob boss role he presented in Silver Linings Playbook without the mental illness. He’s friendly and positive and plays every line like it’s brilliance, and to Meyer’s due respect, the part of Ben is the only well rounded character arc. Matching the likability of Meyer’s previous leading seniors, Ben is a funny, forthcoming man from a different era.
Appearances by Workaholics cast members Adam Devine and Anders Holm are forgettable, but using them without the drug infused slapstick we normally get from them is a welcome change. The rest of the supporting cast, except for a despicably underutilized Andrew Rannells, is recognizable but unimpressive. The collection of underdressed, underconfident millennials appeals solely to an older generation, heavily limiting the appeal of the movie and the validity of young adults, stereotyping most of that office as schlubby live-at-home men trying to not grow up. This gimmick continues to persist ignoring the ample workforce not coasting by on their flannel.
The movie is fine with an exceptional showing by Robert De Niro. Playing toward the older audience, Meyers misses her mark in tone and content but lucked out with a leading man impossible to hate. Banking on the financial success of this and her other recent movies, she surely has located her target audience and the gruffs I collect from her work are seen as the truth by her regular viewers.