September 30, 2015
70 year old Ben Whitaker joins a new program for retirees and was assigned to be a senior intern for Jules Ostin, a very successful 32 year old owner of About the Fit, a fast-rising internet clothing company. His winning gentlemanly ways endear him to his co-workers, and eventually even to his difficult boss. Ben came at a time when Jules was deciding whether she needs to hire a CEO for her firm to help her keep up with the escalating demands of the business, as well as her home life with her stay-at-home husband Matt and daughter Paige.
I admit that initially with only the bare knowledge of its synopsis, I did not really plan to watch this film. Although I like Anne Hathaway, I can't say I would say the same for Robert de Niro's body of work lately. However, with all the initial positive ratings I saw praising "The Intern", I decided I should also see this film for myself.
From playing Meryl Streep's intern in "The Devil Wears Prada," a more mature Anne Hathaway plays a boss this time. The role of Jules Ostin really fit Hathaway very well, and she was really very natural playing her. She was convincing as a successful woman struggling to keep her demanding business schedule up and balancing it with her domestic duties as wife and mother. She really imbued her character with so much relatability, we empathize fully with what she is going through. Her restraint was admirable.
I had to change my initial apprehension of Robert de Niro's present state of acting with his understated yet brilliant performance here as Ben Whitaker. The script makes his character so perfect, so ideal, too good to be true. Yet, de Niro makes him believable and real, warm and engaging. We will all want to meet someone like him to be our friend and confidante. Even if Ben had a lot of potentially awkward situations here with Jules, but the chemistry between de Niro and Hathaway keeps everything swimmingly afloat.
A lot of the comic relief came from the gang of younger interns at work whom Ben also helps out with their respective issues. These were Jason (Adam DeVine), Davis (Zack Pearlman) and Lewis (Jason Orley). The four of them had a adventure caper sequence about breaking and entering a house that on paper may have felt very out of place in the main story. But as it was executed, it was a comic highlight of the film that I really enjoyed.
It was good to see Rene Russo again in another one of her rare movie roles. She had a comeback of sorts two years ago as a ruthless TV news producer in "Nightcrawler". While I like Russo's performance, her role was very strange -- a company masseuse. I did not realize that companies would even have a job like that.
They cast Anders Holm, an actor more known for comedy, in the critical role of Jules' husband Matt. He did not possess the typical Hollywood leading man looks which made him feel more real. His performance in the dramatic confrontation scene with Jules was very effective, it was a pleasant surprise.
Writer-Director Nancy Meyer has an impressive list of comedies under her belt, mostly about human relationships, like "What Women Want," "Something's Gotta Give" and "It's Complicated." "The Intern" is also about problems and dilemmas modern women face, but it explores another type of friendship. The script was witty and smart as what Meyer was known for. I liked the nostalgia about lost gentlemanly habits, like shaving daily or bringing a handkerchiefs. The characters were admittedly all so feel-good-natured to be real people. However, the acting talent and palpable chemistry of the cast injected these characters with such vitality, that we the audience can fully empathize with them. 8/10.