Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Movie Review - The Intern

Most of the movie reviews I do here seem to be about superhero, science fiction or action movies. That's because it's hard to find a movie that isn't about one of these themes that I want to see. After seeing both Robert DiNero and Anne Hathaway on the talk shows last week, we decided to give "The Intern" a try.

Robert DiNero plays 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker. He's been retired for a few years, and although he manages to keep busy, he feels there is "a hole in his life". He sees a flyer for a "senior intern program" at a local (Brooklyn) startup and decides to go for it.

Anne Hathaway plays Jules Ostin, the founder and creative genius behind that local internet startup, called  "About the Fit", an e-commerce fashion company. She reluctantly agrees to take on Ben as her intern even though she, who is clearly busier than a one-armed paper hanger (to turn a phrase), doesn't think she can find anything for him to do.

It's mainly a fish-out-of-water story. Ben, who was formerly a VP of a telephone book company, is a can-do guy, who just so happy to be out of the house, so he'll do anything that looks like it needs to be done. You've seen this story and you know how it ends. Ben becomes everyone's friend and even cold, hard Jules is eventually won over.

What sets this apart for the run-of-the-mill story is the writing, and Robert DiNero. DiNero has certainly shown is comic chops before, in fact he got offered this part after Nancy Meyers saw him in "Silver Linings Playbook". Anne Hathaway is no slouch either, having appeared in a variety of roles in her career. There are very nicely paced sections of dialog between Ben and Jules that just carry the story along and establish them as real people.

DiNero is great a Ben. Ben is "old-school" but not a dinosaur. He may be a bit behind the technology curve, but he's eager to learn. He gets submerged into a chaotic office full of people younger than his children but always keeps his head up. The reaction shots of DiNero to his coworkers and their troubles is great. There is a scene during one of the interviews where he is asked about college. "What was your major? Do you remember?" DiNero's look is perfect.

There is one scene where the movie almost gets out of hand. Jules accidentally sends an unflattering email to her mother. She wants her IT people to retrieve it but is told it's impossible. Ben, in what sounds like a joke, suggest that he take a couple of guys over to the mother's house, break in and delete the email before her mother gets home from work. Then they do it. About 5 minutes of slap stick comedy follows, but director Meyers (who also wrote the story) manages to not let the scene take over the entire movie.

The only weak link in the film is Jules' husband, Matt, played by Anders Holm. It's not that Holm plays the part badly it's just a little hard to believe that Jules would have married this guy.

Jules and Matt have a young daughter (6 maybe?) played by JoJo Kushner. Young Kushner steals every scene she is in, basically playing a grade school edition of Jules.

The movie brings up a lot of important themes about women in the work place, older people in the workforce, mother-daughter relationships, and the expense of apartments in New York City. It doesn't do much with any of these bit it's not trying to be an issues movie. It's trying to be a story about how people cope with a lot of these issues and it does a good job at that.

I'm a retired guy, not quite as old as DiNero portrays here, but I'm pretty satisfied with retirement. If Anne Hathaway offered me a job, however, I'd seriously consider going back to work.

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