What It’s About
An intergenerational comedy that respects both Baby Boomers and Millennials, “The Intern” features sincere character relationships and warm humor — even if its soft, gooey plot is one of contrivances and conveniences.
But the laughs are earned, the ensemble appealing, and sun-dappled Brooklyn looks tidy and inviting.
Writer-director Nancy Meyer (“It’s Complicated”) has created another old-fashioned crowd-pleaser in trendy wrapping that older moms, in particular, will enjoy.
Robert De Niro gamely plays Ben Whittaker, a widower and retired business executive, who returns to the workplace at age 70 as a senior intern. He proves invaluable to the fashion website founder, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), a driven workaholic with a little heart, if not patience, and ingratiates himself with the company workforce.
Ben becomes everyone’s favorite uncle, a wise man they rely on for advice on love and life — think Mrs. Doubtfire in a suit. He is an astute dime-store psychologist.
A savvy mix of old pros and up-and-comers serve their characters well, although some could have used more screen time. Rene Russo is the company masseuse who hits it off with Ben, and the lovely actress has only a scant few scenes.
Andrew Rannells (“Girls’), such a fun guy, is the mastermind of the senior intern, and other than advising Jules a few times, doesn’t have much to do.
As the leads, Hathaway (“Les Miserables”) and De Niro (“Meet the Parents”) share a pleasant chemistry and believable interaction. She is well-suited for the high-powered, stressed-out chief and he’s a perfect blend of parent/guru/BFF, a congenial role not unlike his compassionate dad role in “Everybody’s Fine.”
The youngsters are not condescending, and the old folks aren’t dismissive. That is refreshing to see.
The glossy camera work makes every nook in Brooklyn beautiful.
What Doesn’t Work
As much as I enjoy seeing tasteful homes and lovely work spaces, Meyers usually creates such perfect worlds and fantasy situations that sometimes one questions their authenticity. (Yet, I’m still drooling over Meryl Streep’s kitchen in “It’s Complicated,” Diane Keaton’s beach house in “Something’s Gotta Give” and a radiant Jude Law in “The Holiday.”)
We all want lives to be as perfect as possible, and Meyers shows us those beautiful possible worlds. That’s not a bad thing, but not necessarily grounded in reality.
Sometimes, a fantasy will warm the heart and soothe after a frantic day. And “The Intern” offers relevant insight in its escapist entertainment package.
3 stars out of 4
Director: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Adam Devine, Andrew Rannells, Anders Holm, Rene Russo, Linda Lavin, and Mary Kay Place
Rated: PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language