You know I’m probably going to lose some ‘man points’ for this but I don’t care: I actually quite enjoyed a lot of Nancy Meyers’ films (WHAT WOMEN WANT, SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE, THE HOLIDAY, IT’S COMPLICATED etc.). Sure there not great pieces of high-class quality cinema, but they were still solid and well made comedies that I found to be rather enjoyable. Plus you know for that with Meyers, you’re going to get Hollywood comedies that are at lest better than other films of their type that released every year. So I that regard, I was interested in checking out her latest film THE INTERN (which is her first film in 6 years).
The film tells the story of Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a 70-year-old widower who isn’t finding retirement as fulfilling as it could be. One day he finds a flyer for an outreach program at an online fashion company that’s looking for seniors to work as interns. Believing that this is what he is looking for, he signs up. When Ben is selected to join the internship program, he is assigned to work for the company’s founder and CEO Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). At first Jules is apprehensive to have Ben work for her, but she decides to give him a chance anyway. As both Ben and Jules get know more about each other, a true friendship begins to form between the two of them.
Now before I go into my thoughts on THE INTERN, I should state that your overall enjoyment of the film will definitely come down to how you feel about Nancy Meyer’s work as a director. If you liked her previous films, then you’ll most likely have fun with this as well. If you didn’t, this film will not be right up your alley at all. So what did I think of it? I must admit that while I don’t think THE INTERN is as good as her other films, I still thought that it was a decent and enjoyable comedy. Actually if I had one word to describe the film overall, it would be ‘nice’. Now I know some people may be put off by that description, but I can’t think of a better word for the film. You know what? There’s nothing particularly wrong with that. Writer/director Nancy Meyers knows exactly what type of film is was making and for most part I thought she did well in what she set out to do. I did find the film quite enjoyable and also very witty at times. Plus Meyer’s script even takes the time to explored some themes that make the film feel really timely today (particularly the judgmental attitudes that most working women/mothers face on daily basis). However the key thing that has always made Meyer’s films work for me, is the relationships between her characters. Luckily she assembled strong cast of actors to play them.
While their roles aren’t the most demanding parts that either has ever played, both Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway are still quite good as “Ben” and “Jules” respectively. The friendship between their two characters definitely was the film’s strongest aspect and I really enjoyed them both whenever they were onscreen. It probably helped a lot that both De Niro and Hathaway actually have really good chemistry with each other. De Niro brings a nice father figure type of quality to the role of “Ben” makes him quite likable and Hathaway brought a lot of surprising amount depth to her performance as “Jules” (there’s one scene in particular in the 3rd act I thought was rather touching). The supporting cast (Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Adam Devine, Zack Pearlman, JoJo Kushner, Christina Scherer) all did solid work in their roles as well. Especially both Pearlman and Scherer, who were the stand outs for me (Scherer’s personality in particular reminded me of a young Joan Cusack). Plus I have to give credit to Meyer to not making this film into a ‘May-December romance’ between De Niro and Hathaway. Other filmmakers probably would have gone down that route, but the film is far effective by having it to be a story of friendship rather than a romance (let’s be honest if it was, it actually be kind of creepy).
However even though there were a lot of aspects that I like about the film, it also does suffer from quite a number of flaws as well. While the script was fine, I wish that Meyer did a bit more with it. Compared to her other films that she’s made, there really isn’t much in terms of story. The plot kind of meanders for a bit until it gets to the 3rd act, where the drama of the story really kicks into gear. It probably doesn’t help that there isn’t much plot to justify the film for running a bit over 2 hours long. It would have been better if the film was 15-20 minutes shorter (some minor subplots in the film felt like they belonged in a TV sitcom, which could have easily have been cut). Even though Rene Russo was fine in her role, I did feel that was criminally underused and her romantic subplot with De Niro’s character didn’t really add much. Also the use of product placement in this film (both visually and verbally) was very annoying (it makes the use of it in Michael Bay’s films look very subtle), the score was rather bland and repetitive and the script’s reliance on ‘old people’ jokes got a little old after a while (no pun intended).
So overall while THE INTERN isn’t quite as good as Nancy Meyers’ previous work but for what it is, it’s still a reasonably entertaining comedy nonetheless. It might be a bit too lightweight for most people out there but for those who don’t mind this types of films, I think you might get some enjoyment out of it as well.
Review written by Bede Jermyn