Directed by Nancy Meyers
Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam Devine
There are times you enter a film knowing full well you are not the intended audience, but you hope to get something out of it anyway. This was definitely one of those times. Sure, some are going to love this film, but for the rest of us it is just a completely middling experience, one that could probably be recreated by reading a self help book while being surrounded by lilac-scented candles. Probably less embarrassing for De Niro, to boot.
Retirement is becoming a grind for 70 year old widower Ben Whittiker (Robert De Niro). In an attempt to get motivated about life again he takes on a senior intern position in an up and coming online fashion store. The quirky and brilliant workaholic Jules (Anne Hathaway) draws the short straw and is assigned Ben. Jules doesn’t want an intern clogging up her workload, but with a husband and daughter that always take second place to work and investors that want her to hand over management to a CEO, Ben might provide the advice that she needs.
This is exactly the movie you think it is, with De Niro doling out nuggets of wisdom on cue whenever the stress of work and family get too much for poor Anne Hathaway. Of course he also gets to school a bunch of 20-something man-children (Adam Devine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley) about how to be real men, as well as having a romantic involvement with a company masseuse (Rene Russo). At least he’s keeping busy.
At two hours, The Intern outstays its welcome slightly, but it’s such a gentle film that you don’t really notice. This soppy comedic offering is made bearable by the cast and has some genuinely touching moments. In amongst the ribald workplace misunderstandings, Ruso and De Niro get a couple of nice scenes together. When the venue of a first date is suddenly changed from lunch to a funeral, it has a good (although blatantly obvious) carpe diem quality to it, and both actors bring a bit of weight to the performance. Similarly a crucial sequence between Hathaway and De Niro near the climax of the film manages to hit its dramatic mark, with both playing well against the other.
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, even when he is completely de-fanged De Niro is still De Niro. The gruff and calmly competent Ben might not be comedic gold, but he is still an enjoyable character. Hathaway is perfect as the eccentric, workaholic mum, bringing her natural charisma to the role. The result is a rather average comedy that just falls into that middle ground. Nothing really to hate about it, but nothing to strongly recommend it either.