Directed by: Nancy Meyers.
Written by: Nancy Meyers.
Starring: Robert De Niro (Ben), Anne Hathaway (Jules), Rene Russo (Fiona), Anders Holm (Matt), JoJo Kushner (Paige), Andrew Rannells (Cameron), Adam DeVine (Jason), Zack Pearlman (Davis), Jason Orley (Lewis), Christina Scherer (Becky).
Every shot in every Nancy Meyers movie looks like it’s coming directly from one of those high end design magazines – and that may be truer of The Intern than anything else she has made. The movie is set in trendy, high-end Brooklyn, in either some horribly expensive Brownstones or else a former factory turned into an office space, for an internet startup company staffed mainly by hipsters. It’s almost impossibly perfect looking, which unfortunately extends to the rest of the movie as well, where Robert DeNiro plays not only the most well-adjusted character of his long career – but perhaps the most well-adjusted movie character in history. He plays a 70 year old widower, who spent decades working for a phone book company, who is well off and retired, but bored. He sees a flyer for an internet company called About the Fit, advertising for Senior Interns, applies, and gets the job – assigned to work directly for the founder of the company, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). The site sells clothes online, that somehow guarantees that everything will come and fit you precisely (how, the movie wisely never explains, since that’s impossible). The company started just 18 months ago, and is now a runaway success – so much so, that’s it’s growing too fast for Jules to handle, and her investors want her to bring on a more seasoned CEO. Jules doesn’t really want to, but at the same time, she knows she is too busy – and her marriage to Matt (Anders Holm) – who quite his good to be a stay at home dad, and her parenting to her 6-year-old daughter is suffering. Jules thinks the whole idea of a senior intern program is silly, but because DeNiro’s Ben is such a swell guy, she gradually lets her guard down, and lets him into her life and her business.
Almost everything about The Intern has the same, professional, high gloss sheen of those Brownstones and that converted factory. It’s nice to see DeNiro play a character this normal and decent – something he has never really had a chance to do before. He’s an actor who has leant his image be used for far too many dopey comedies and direct-to-DVD action movies or thrillers in recent years. Here, he’s not mugging – but playing a well-adjusted, downright boring guy, who is also perfectly pleasant – so while he’s not overly exciting to spend the entire movie with him, it’s also not painful in the least either. While DeNiro is, for the first time in a long time, not playing off his image, the same cannot be said for Anne Hathaway. It would not surprise me in the least to find out that Meyers wrote the part specifically for Hathaway – because it fits image as a driven woman, who is perhaps trying too hard, perfectly. I’ll never quite understand why some people – both men and women – hate Hathaway so much, she’s always seemed perfectly fine to me – and she is here as well. It’s a kind of stereotypical role of a driven career woman, trying to have it all, and struggling with whether or not that is possible – but Hathaway handles it well. Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Intern is how Meyers handles the martial conflict with Jules and Matt –which does have a resolution, but far from a tidy one – suggesting that things may not be perfect, but they’re going to struggle on for a while longer anyway. That’s not something that Meyers has really done before – and it was somewhat refreshing.
There are other parts in The Intern at all though. Ben’s burgeoning relationship with the office massage therapist, played by Rene Russo, doesn’t really go anywhere, and has a few gags that are strangely uncomfortable. Ben’s relationships with some of the office hipsters, teaching them his old school ways can be pleasant at times, but reaches its nadir during a would-be comic outing to try and retrieve a computer – a gag that takes up a surprising amount of screen time considering it doesn’t really seem to come from anywhere, or go anywhere either.
The Intern is one of those movie that you know will find its way onto cable channels, playing in repeat on Sunday afternoons, that you sometimes find yourself watching because it’s too cold to leave the damn house. For that sort of viewing, perhaps, The Intern will do its job – something to watch only half paying attention, while folding laundry or doing something else. It’s a perfectly pleasant movie. It’s just that the film doesn’t seem to go anywhere, it’s just drifting. The time passes, and then it’s over, without really all that much happening.