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Review: The Intern

The Intern
09.23.2015
5 10
 

PLOT: A bored retiree (Robert De Niro) signs-up to be an intern at a start-up e-commerce company, where he grows close to the stressed-out founder and CEO (Anne Hathaway).

REVIEW: When you go see a Nancy Meyers movie these days, you pretty much know what you're gonna get. Defiantly geared towards baby-boomer audiences, her movies are old-fashioned, often quite cute and pleasant comedies with a guaranteed happy ending and a minimum of drama. Her latest, THE INTERN, really is no different from movies like SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE, THE HOLIDAY or IT'S COMPLICATED. Audiences looking for a simple comedy that, by-design, is forgettable and non-taxing will likely get their money's worth, but it's all so disposable that one yearns for the days Meyers used to write smarter, edgier comedies like IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES, PRIVATE BENJAMIN, and the great BABY BOOM, to which this compares unfavorably.

 

Some of THE INTERN's faults can likely be chalked-up to the studio. As the market for rom-coms has diminished somewhat, everyone's trying to save a buck and despite cinematography by veteran Stephen Goldblatt, THE INTERN doesn't have the lavish, big-budget look Meyers is famous for. The movie also suffers from a constant-stream of iTunes-friendly pop-hits, a preponderance of product placement, with De Niro proudly stating in the first scene that he starts every day at Starbucks (where he also goes to fetch coffee for the staff later), along with constant use of Mac devices, shout-outs to Uber and even a really weird Netflix mention where Anne Hathaway says it in such a forced way, you have to wonder if she's ever even heard of the service. Basically, it suffers from artlessness.

What's somewhat surprising is the presence of Hathaway, who typically shies away from big-studio comedies and seems unconvincingly chipper here. Basically, she's too perfect. She seems to treasure her employees, is the perfect mother and basically an all-around swell gal. The premise of the movie hinges on the possibility that she'll lose control of her company to a new CEO, but she's such an effortlessly great boss that seems ridiculous. To Meyers' credit, there is a twist late in the film that suggests Hathaway's career has taken a toll on her marriage, with her spouse (Anders Holm) having quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad. While this is resolved in an admirably mature and unconventional way, it all feeds into a very millennial attitude that there's no need to ever sacrifice anything, as things will always work out in the end. Meyer's earlier BABY BOOM basically said the opposite and while it wouldn't have been necessary to have Hathaway choose one or the other, at least a real sense of conflict, which would give the film a little more realism than the picture-perfect 1% world this is set in, would have been nice.

 

Perhaps here Meyers is deliberately trying to stretch, although of course, De Niro's baby boomer is so wise that he's almost a Yoda-like sage. Everyone's so perfect, from the happy-go-lucky staff to Rene Russo as De Niro's potential love interest, that it almost feels condescending. At times THE INTERN comes dangerously close to feeling more like a Garry Marshall movie than a Nancy Meyers one, but luckily some decent dialogue and all-around better execution keeps this from happening.

It's worth saying that De Niro really does give THE INTERN his all, and Meyers has rallied a good performance out of him. While he takes a lot of heat from the random movies he shows up in, he seems fully committed here and actually conveys a nice sense of warmth, something he's not called on to do much anymore.

In the end THE INTERN is a very forgettable movie, but I have no doubt a certain audience will get a big kick out of it, as did the preview audience I saw it with. It's nakedly commercial, but it too often feels artificial and has no sense of real emotion to it. Fans of the star pairing might want to give this a look when it hits streaming, but with so many other quality films coming out in the next few weeks, I can't really give this even a mild recommendation.

Source: JoBlo.com

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