[Screen It]

"THE INTERN"
(2015) (Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Dramedy: A 70-year-old retired widower takes a job as an intern for the woman who runs a growing, online clothing retailer.
PLOT:
Ben Whittaker (ROBERT DE NIRO) is a 70-year-old retired widower who lives in Brooklyn and tries to keep himself busy. Having run out of things to do, he decides to reply to an ad looking for senior interns at About the Fit, an online clothing retailer. ATF's COO, Cameron (ANDREW RANNELLS), devised the program and ends up assigning Ben to be the intern for the company's skilled but increasingly harried founder, Jules Ostin (ANNE HATHAWAY). Being so busy and preoccupied with her investors wanting her to bring in an experienced CEO to run the rapidly growing company -- something that means she has little time for her stay-at-home husband, Matt (ANDERS HOLM), and their young daughter, Paige (JOJO KUSHNER) -- Jules has already forgotten she approved the program. And considering she already has an assistant in the over-worked and under-appreciated Becky (CHRISTINA SCHERER), Jules doesn't want an intern.

The supervisor of the interns, Jason (ADAM DEVINE), feels bad for Ben, what with others such as tech guru Lewis (JASON ORLEY) and Davis (ZACK PEARLMAN) having plenty to do. But Ben finds a kindred spirit in the company's older, in-house masseuse, Fiona (RENE RUSSO), and ends up getting to know Jules when he temporarily takes over as her driver. While she initially doesn't want him knowing much about her, she eventually comes to recognize and appreciate his previous work experience and current outlook on life. As she uncomfortably continues her search for a possible CEO to run her company, she and Ben form a friendship that goes beyond work, all while sparks start to fly between him and Fiona.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
I'm approaching the age when traditional retirement isn't that many more laps around the sun away. Yet, since I work long hours running this movie review website for parents, I wonder if I'll be able to step back and, you know, relax.

And part of that stems from seeing that experience from others. While I know people who've had no problem walking away and filling their life with plenty of adventures, others have returned to the working world after discovering that playing golf, going on vacation and watching TV doesn't leave them fulfilled.

Such is the case with Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro). Having worked for a phone book publisher for most of his adult life, but now retired and widowed going on four years, the 70-year-old has a hole in his life that needs filling.

And thus he takes a job as a "senior intern" at a rapidly growing online clothing retailer with a founder (Anne Hathaway) who, despite seeming to have it all together, is naturally in need of someone to confide in regarding her unraveling life.

That's the setup of "The Intern," a dramedy that has some points to make about generational differences as well as gender politics in the working world, but otherwise comes off as a fairly low-key but nearly always pleasant flick that left a smile on my face for much of its two-hour runtime.

Written and directed by Nancy Meyers ("It's Complicated," "The Holiday"), the film moves along at a good clip, even if the storyline -- where De Niro's character goes from barely used intern to pivotal advisor -- won't surprise many viewers. Nor will the inclusion of various comedic sidekick characters (played by the likes of Adam DeVine, Jason Orley and Zack Pearlman) or generational jokes (done congenially rather than with meanness) aimed at both older people for being out of touch with today's tech and their younger counterparts not having class (in terms of dressing nice, etc.) like those who preceded them.

Meyers occasionally delves into more serious issues, specifically that of women who must juggle work demands with home life and marriage (the latter involving Anders Holm as Jules' stay-at-home husband and JoJo Kushner as their young and, natch, precocious but still cute as a button young daughter). It's obviously not something novel and Meyers could have used some more subtlety in addressing those themes, but it all goes down fairly easily. And it allows Hathaway to give more depth to her character.

The workplace/friendship chemistry between her and De Niro is terrific, while there's an amusing subplot featuring Rene Russo as the company's in-house masseuse who gets the senior intern limbered up and then some.

I wasn't expecting much more than formula in terms of what the film would deliver, and much of it is just that. But all involved take the material and give it enough of a calculated yet effortless polish that it feels fresh enough, and it's certainly enjoyable and entertaining from start to finish.

More than competently telling its tale, "The Intern" nicely bridges the generational gap of its two target demographics and should play well to both the employed and those who are looking for something to do and see in retirement. It rates as a 6.5 out of 10.




Reviewed September 21, 2015 / Posted September 25, 2015


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