Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Film Review: The Intern

(I know this review is late, but here it is)

The Intern is not a great movie and it is not a bad movie.  It is a nice movie.

The story centers around Ben, played by a delightful Robert De Niro.  He is a retired widower who tries to fill the emptiness in his life with work.  He decides to enter an internship program with a company run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).  This leads to a number of humorous encounters that highlight the difference between Ben's old school sensibilities and the millennial, de-masculinized world.

The real treat is the chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway.  Their relationship could easily have devolved into a father/daughter, boss/butler, May/December kind of thing.  The script wisely makes their story more interesting and emotionally complex.

In a world that tends to devalue the elderly, this film does a good job of reversing that trend.  There is a strong theme of looking past the differences in age and seeing the person as they are.  The movie also has a lot to say about marriage and its meaning.  As Jules deals with the pressures of work and raising her daughter, the strains that appear in her marriage become very real.  Again, the script wisely avoids any easy answers but it recognizes how serious marriage is in a way that I have not seen in a lot of movies lately.  And while Ben's words about his wife are very touching, as he begins to enter into a sexual relationship with another character, it adds a bit of tarnish to the story.

The biggest drawback of the film is the same problem with most Nancy Meyers films: they are too long.  She adds scenes that are unnecessary to the story, like a sequence where Ben and other break in to the home of Jules' mother.  Scenes like this are not diverting enough to justify their presence in the film.  Also, she gets bogged down in her won dialogue.  It is a tricky thing, because she can write some excellent bits of dialogue, but she drags it out too long.  Like Tarantino, she highlights smaller moments at the expense of the overall film.

While watching, I could not help think of Hathaway's other movie, The Devil Wears Prada.  This movie feels like a thematic sequel to that one.  Whereas Hathaway once played a young lady entering into the jungle of the business world, this shows her maturing and taking control of her own business and destiny.

Again, this movie will not move mountains.  But if you are looking for a pleasant diversion for a little while, you could do worse than The Intern.

3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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