The Intern (2015) Movie Review

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Intern (2015) Movie Review

The Intern (2015) Movie Review

Robert De Niro plays the perfect gentleman, the kind we don't see anymore. And every woman who sees the movie will fall a bit in love with him. Anne Hathaway perfectly plays the role of a successful entrepreneur, a working wife and mom who thinks about everything and everyone and still feels guilty about being a working woman, even after the perfect gentleman tells her He should not be the feminist amongst the two of them. Every working woman will identify with her inner struggles. The story is perfect, with the perfect practical ending, as life is always more practical than idealistic. The small touches like the housewives who look down upon the working mom and make her feel guilty (I have seen many of those), the successful aggressive entrepreneur's fear of hurting her mom, the stay-at-home dad's end-of-day exhaustion that the working mom does not really understand and the young boss' discomfort with her elderly intern... All so real. There's an idea here which I spoke about long back... The huge talent pool of retired people nobody is willing to hire. The intern's wisdom and practicality brings a calm and peace to the busy boss' life. There's a lesson here for us all here. Look at our elders and learn from them. Stop a while in your busy life to get more out of it.

The Intern is a perfect example of the soulless crap Hollywood dares to crank out. De Niro plays a retired 70 year old who is bored to death and therefore seeks to work for free as an intern for a booming e-commerce company run by Ann Hathaway. The film feels like one big fat commercial (and it actually is). At this hipster e-com company everyone works on Macs, Ann drives an Audi, she lives in a residential hipster house. She drinks Stella Artois beer (they make sure you see the label), brand names are also dropped (lego, Netflix), other products are also clearly visible; Starbucks, Sony, Skype, Samsung,.. Even the music sounds like music from a commercial (not joking!). Al these 'people' in the movie are the examples of successful hipsters and the 'problems' they have are just first world problems. I also could not stand the characters: all these conflict avoiding, apologetic, overly helpful nitwits. If you see De Niro playing this cardboard character (it's written that way, he tries his best with it) it's hard to believe this was the guy who played in Taxi Driver. The Intern is also so Politically Correct it's sickening. You can feel being manipulated while watching this garbage. It felt like these subliminal messages in They Live. People should not have paid to see this, they should have been paid to spend 2 hours being pounded by this extensive commercial marinated in a forced 'feel good' message.

As far as on screen pairings go, 'The Intern' boasts probably one of the most interesting ones in recent memory. On one hand is Robert De Niro's 70-year-old Ben Whittaker, presently struggling to deal with the concept of retirement; on the other is Anne Hathaway's 32-year-old Jules Ostin, the founder and CEO of a tremendously successful fashion-based e-commerce company called 'About the Fit' or 'ATF' for short' who is presently struggling to deal with the demands of her investors while not neglecting her six-year-old daughter and stay- home husband. Diametrically opposite as they may be, writer/ director Nancy Meyers wants to prove that these two individuals can have much more to learn from each other than you and I can imagine.

So through a community outreach programme which one of her company's executives hatched, Ben finds his away into ATF as a senior intern after impressing some of the much younger employees with his warm sense of humour, his cheery can-do demeanour and proving least likely among his competition to drop dead while on the job (yes, we mean this literally). Despite Jules' initial chagrin, that same executive assigns Ben directly to Jules in order to set an example for the rest of the employees in the company. And as the trailers would have you know, Ben will slowly but surely overcome her reservations with a keen sensitive eye and an unerring professionalism, eventually becoming not just a calming ear amidst the day to day chaos at the workplace but also an invaluable source of advice for her professional and personal woes.

Just so you know, De Niro and Hathaway do not eventually fall in love with each other, so you can rest easy if you're wondering or worried if things would eventually get weird or awkward between them; and to put that at rest, Meyers finds De Niro a romantic interest in Rene Russo's in-house massage therapist Fiona and occupies Hathaway with the discovery that her husband (Anders Holm) has been cheating on her with the stay-home mother of her daughter's schoolmate. It is also in the latter where De Niro will come most prominently to play counsellor and confidante, nudging her not to blame her workaholic tendencies for her husband's infidelity. Oh yes, there is a message of empowerment and encouragement for all career mothers within – and a slap on the face if you will have it for their other halves who use that as an excuse to commit adultery.

In keeping with her recent movies, Meyers has eschewed male- dominated Hollywood stereotype by fashioning Jules as a strong, opinionated and successful female individual who can be a hands-on CEO to over 220 employees at her company while being a dedicated mother and loving wife. Her response to her husband's infidelity isn't to fall in love with a fellow co-worker or to divorce him immediately; rather, she wants to give him a second chance, believing that a re-affirmation of their mutual love for each other will convince him to end his affair once and for all. You may disagree – as Ben does – with whether she is being na├»ve, but hey it's undeniably still a strong gutsy move for a woman to put aside her pride and her hurt to offer forgiveness and to choose to stay together.

Meyers also has yet another intention here, and that is to quash ageism at the workplace. It isn't just coincidence that the company Ben joins is in the Internet business; as incongruous as his presence may be in an industry that arguably does not appeal to his age demographic, Meyers wants to let the young upstart CEOs of today's tech companies know that – as the tagline goes – experience never gets old and that there is something that the Gen-Y leaders can learn from their Gen-X counterparts. You can almost hear Meyers' own lament through Jules that the men of today are a far cry from the likes of Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford, and that just as Jules does, we will find something to learn from the silver-haired members of our workforce.

Both are equally poignant lessons, but perhaps not so wieldy in the same movie. Meyers tries to convey the latter first, and does so quite persuasively through a mixture of situational comedy and punchlines that are gently amusing but never by way of caricature – indeed, the closest she comes to farce is an 'Oceans' Eleven' like 'heist' led by Ben to break into Jules' mother's house and delete an email that Jules had accidentally sent to her mother. The first hour of the movie cruises by like a breeze, in large part as well thanks to De Niro's spot-on comic timing that he hasn't lost since the last sequel of 'Meet the Parents'. There is also much delight to be had watching De Niro and Hathaway break the ice between their respective characters, their dynamic sincere, heartfelt and genuinely affable.

Unfortunately, Meyers doesn't quite do the former as well, and the latter half of the movie sags as a result of a more melodramatic change in tone and pace. Not to trivialise women in similar predicaments, but it isn't quite so convincing just why Jules' husband would cheat on her in the first place and a tad too convenient how Ben comes to chance upon the fact which ends up putting him in a moral quandary. 

And though Meyers' screenplay could do with some work, it is the sheer effervescent chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway that keeps the movie afloat. Both are equally lovely in their respective roles, and the strength of their performances is enough to make you forgive the fact that their characters are probably too good-natured to be true. Yes, 'The Intern' works best when it is a two-hander between its unlikely on screen pairing, and fizzles out especially in the last third once it decides to make three a crowd.

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