THE INTERN (USA/12A/121mins)
Directed by Nancy Meyers. Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Nat Wolff, Rene Russo.
Three years after the death of his wife, 70 year old Ben (Robert De Niro) applies to be an intern at an up and coming fashion site, which is struggling to meet the demand it has created. Initially rebuffed by the busy and slightly awkward founder Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), the two end up becoming unlikely friends.
THE VERDICT: THE INTERN is director Nancy Meyers’ first film since 2009’s It’s Complicated, and while Hathaway and De Niro do relatively well with the characters they are given, the film lacks any sort of tension or drama, turning what could have been a powerful film about not writing people off into a fluffy and troubling flick.
Robert De Niro is fine in the leading role, but this is one of the most insipid and lifeless characters he has played to date. From the moment the film opens with a quote about work from Sigmund Feud, until the film’s closing with Tai Chi in the park, it seems that Ben exists to be ageist against younger men, speak in inspirational quotes and be as affable and bland as possible. Anne Hathaway does slightly better in character terms with Jules, but this is a woman who rides a bike through the office and has the memory of a startled goldfish, so there is little here to make the founder of a successful website actually feel like a real person. The rest of the cast is made up of Anders Holm, Rene Russo, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine and Zack Pearlman, most of whom exist just to hammer home Ben’s points about work and life – most of which is along the lines of carry a handkerchief because women cry.
Nancy Meyers’ script has all the elements for THE INTERN to be a charming and sweet film, but through some terrible dialogue, some dodgy choices and a complete lack of drama – other than some shoehorned in to create an ending – The Intern falls completely flat. As director, Meyers completely fails to make the film engaging or give it any dramatic tension, which leads to the entire shebang just meandering through the running time. As well as this, Ben reveals himself to be an ageist misogynist hiding under a layer of affability, and Jules is spineless and dull. Scenarios seem to be thrown in for the sake of being derivative, and at 121 minutes, the shine rubs off The Intern very quickly.
In all, it seems that The Intern was created to make an observation about cherishing the wisdom that older people have, but it ends up being filled with thin characters, a hatred of women, spineless women, very little drama and almost zero laughs. THE INTERN is not the film to revive the rom-com, perhaps it’s better at this stage, to just let it die with what dignity it has left.
Review by Brogen Hayes

The Intern
Review by Brogen Hayes
1.0zero laughs
  • filmbuff2011

    ‘Experience never gets old’ is the tagline for The Intern. It’s a good summation for the film, as it’s a cross-generational film with fish-out-of-water elements. Ben (Robert De Niro) is widowed and retired, enjoying his days doing tai-chi and drinking coffee early in the morning. But something is missing and he wants to fill his time with a purpose. That’s when he comes across an ad for an internet start-up that sells clothes. They have a senior intern programme to bring more experience on board. When Ben arrives, he’s the only person there over 35, but he fits in well. Less accepting is boss Jules (Anne Hathaway), who carries the weight of the company she started on her shoulders… and also likes to cycle through the office (cute). Initially ignoring Ben, she soon comes to accept him as what he is – a father figure and a man who likes to listen, help and offer advice from his years of wisdom. And Jules needs it – she’s considering hiring a CEO to take pressure off her family life, as she’s pretty much married to the job. Together Jules and Ben become the most unlikely of best friends… Writer/director Nancy Meyers has form in cross-generational comedy (e.g. Something’s Gotta Give). Here she takes an oddball scenario and turns it into a mostly winning, feel-good workplace comedy drama with a big heart. This is in no small part due to the casting. After some dubious role choices in recent years, De Niro doesn’t shame himself this time around, giving Ben an amiability and gravitas too. His flirtations with house masseuse (?) Fiona (Rene Russo) are fun to watch. Hathaway’s naturally chirpy personality is a good fit for her character – positive, but with a sense of realism about her difficulties in achieving a work/life balance. Not so successful is the last act of the film, with Meyers feeling the need to shoehorn in unnecessary plot points. In comes infidelity and an early mid-life crisis for Jules, which does the film no favours. The interactions and growing friendship between Ben and Jules are enough to carry the film alone, so why complicate things? It’s something of a letdown after all the good stuff that came before. However, the last act isn’t enough to imbalance the whole film, which is still enjoyable enough. So, two-thirds of a good film leads to a satisfactory result in this performance review. ***

  • emerb

    Renowned female writer/director Nancy Meyers brings us a charming workplace romantic comedy “The Intern”. Meyers has made a number of commercially very successful films -“Somethings Gotta Give”, “It’s Complicated” and her skill lies in making affable, pleasant movies, centred on women and aimed at a slightly older audience. While these films don’t always score highly with the critics, she is one of the most financially successful female filmmakers of all time and she has clearly found her niche. Her movies are generally quite simple and usually revolve around relationships which somewhat echo her own personal history. That is to say, they focus on the privileged but somewhat complex lives of females. I have to admit that I, for one, am exactly the type of viewer she is trying to capture and needless to say, I loved this movie!

    “The Intern” is about a straight laced, somewhat gruff but amiable70 year-old retired and widowed former business executive Ben Whittaker (Robert DeNiro). Fed up with his empty days, he enters a senior’s internship programme at a booming, fast-paced online clothing start-up in Brooklyn called “About the Fit”. High powered, stylish and highly driven executive Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) is the founder and she is initially reluctant to have him as her personal assistant, but she soon realises his value. Ben’s usefulness and old-school stoicism make him not just useful but indispensable. The two begin to bond but there is no hint of romance between them. It’s more of a friendship and professional relationship, which turns out to work for their mutual benefit. Jules has a hectic life – she’s overworked and overwhelmed by the conflicting demands of her family, which includes a caustic mother, a good-natured but restless stay-at-home husband (Anders Holm) and a cute little daughter she hardly ever sees. When she starts to feel that control of her business is slipping away and her marriage is beginning to hit the rocks, Ben becomes a much needed listener and confidante. He brings his wisdom to her life, helping her find more balance and advising her not to let the role of career woman get entangled with that of mum and wife.

    The movie is carried by admirable performances from the two main leads. Hathaway handles all her moments and lines very nicely. I always find her engaging and she keeps Jules grounded – human rather than superhuman. De Niro has demonstrated his flair for comedy in his later years (“Meet the Parents”, “Analyze This” and “The King of Comedy”) so this role suits him perfectly. His Ben is kindly, sentimental, smart and open and the pair have a genuine and credible chemistry together. The supporting cast (including Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Adam DeVine, Anders Holms and Rene Russo) are all appealing although some of their characters are somewhat underdeveloped.

    Cinematographer Stephen Goldblatt has created a pleasantly attractive film, even if it’s one that feels ridiculously glossy, polished and manicured. As in all Meyers’ films, everything seems so impossibly perfect and the affluence is to be noticed everywhere with its picture perfect kitchens and lavish bedrooms. However, the cleverly designed sets along with the somewhat schmaltzy but ultra- modern music are perfectly apt for the script. “The Intern” delivers what it promises – a light hearted, feel good romantic comedy which accomplishes the not-so-easy task of consistently pleasing the audience. There are plenty of predictable jokes about older people, sex, the internet and social media but it’s all so relentlessly good natured and upbeat that it’s hard to be too critical. I suspect it will do better than the reviews will give it credit for. Box office returns are likely to be quite good, thanks in a large part to the casting of Hathaway, DeNiro’s pull with older audiences and the resilience of movies of this genre to the often harsh criticism levelled from loftier, more cynical critics. People who choose to go to films like this aren’t looking for something deep and meaningful, they want to be entertained, amused and feel good comedy “The Intern” did that just fine for me.

  • Martin

    A movie that should be an hour and a half dragged out to 2 hours. That’s only the start of what’s wrong here. You know a film is bad when all the jokes are in the trailers and that’s it. The rest is bland. De Niro does a decent job but hattaway is her usual annoying self. Goes on much to long and is very boring