Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Nat Wolff, Adam DeVine
Until now director Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, Somethings Gotta Give) has been a one note filmmaker. You can always bet on her scripts unfolding liker a Pottery Barn catalog, often the sets get more attention to detail than the characters. She certainly brings that distinct style to The Intern, but something feels different this time around. The breath of fresh air is Meyers moving away from the romance genre and focusing on platonic relationship, she just may have found her missing ingredient from her previous work. Hathaway performance returns to Devil Wears Prada quality and will likely gain some of the fans back she has lost, but it’s De Niro that really impresses here playing a soft and gentile character outside his comfort zone.
In less than 18 months Jules Ostin (Hathaway) has created an online startup company that has taken off like a rocket. Her philosophy is to do things differently, she rides a bike through the office and even does customer service calls when her schedule permits. Ostin’s company About the Fit has created an internship program for seniors and 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) gets hired. Ben wants to stay busy and useful during his retirement. At first he’s seen as a joke, but his years of experience as a business executive and “old school” charm and professionalism eventually have a warming effect on the millennials who run the company. Ben is assigned to founder Ostin and gradually becomes the missing link in her rapidly growing company.
The script is also full of surprises and more importantly actors/characters in non-traditional roles.
What works the most here is the chemistry between Hathaway and De Niro. It’s similar to scenes he shared with Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, but Hathaway is an old soul and on De Niro’s level. I don’t remember ever seeing De Niro play someone so warm and personable as he does here. It is his first time working with Meyers and Hathaway, and a real departure for the Oscar winning actor. While Meyers writes for viewers her own age, many of the jokes or outcomes are so on the nose, intellectual viewers will be bored watching predictable scenarios play out. Yet the script is also full of surprises and more importantly actors/characters in non-traditional roles. The young woman as the breadwinner while the husband gives up his career to assume the role of stay-at-home-dad.
Most Meyers scripts have some sort of fantasy interlude where realistic characters do something ridiculous, The Intern is no exception (a laptop heist). Thankfully the ridiculousness is kept to a minimum. Every viewer will want to work in Ostin’s office with a friend like Whittaker. This film works so well because it’s satisfying for all age groups and genders. It’s easily Meyers most accessible and rewarding film. Hopefully she will move away from romantic love stories and make more movies like these. Meyers also channels Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail vibe with the picturesque New York City brownstones and modern fashion.
Meyers finds the right formula with Hathaway and De Niro’s chemistry.