Written and directed by Nancy Myers | 121 min.
Sometimes I miss this kind of old-fashioned Hollywood product, which we see infrequently these days. Then I watch one and I remember how totally hokey it can be.
Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) is a retiree, a widower, and a restless 70-something Brooklynite looking to fill his days. He applies at an online fashion company to be part of a seniors intern program, and wows the office hipsters with his work ethic, agreeability, and handkerchiefs. Assigned to the founder of the company, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), he eventually wins her over, too. Before long he’s offering her pointers on feminism, holding her hair when she pukes, and providing a shoulder to cry on as she struggles with poorly written marital issues and her poorly cast husband.
This is an easy entertainment with an idea or two in its head about women in the workplace and the usefulness of senior citizens, but De Niro’s paternal paragon of virtue is both dull and implausible. Ben has the solution to every problem in Jules’ life, both at home and work, making The Intern a low point of patronizing boomer wish-fulfillment. The plot meanders from touching moment to comedic set-piece, including getting Ben and the 20-something interns to break into Jules’ mother’s house to delete an errant email. Myers even has De Niro talking to himself in a mirror, which is going to piss off any of his Taxi Driver fans who wished he’d never stepped away from drama towards comedy in movies like this one.
All this said, it’s hard to deny the leads have chemistry, occasionally lifting the material out of the syrup towards the genuinely heartfelt. These are small consolations; Hathaway is winning, as is Rene Russo in support, and summer in Brooklyn sure looks lovely.