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Movie review: ‘The Intern’ needs more work experience

JoJo Kushner, left, as Paige, and Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker, in a scene from the comedy, "The Intern."
AP | Warner Bros. Pictures

THE INTERN

B-

Directed By Nancy Meyers

Starring Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro, Rene Russo, Nat Wolff, Anders Holm, Jojo Kushner, Andrew Rannells

Rated PG-13, Drama, 121 minutes

Written and directed by Nancy Meyers of the wonderful “Something’s Gotta Give,” “The Intern” is a lighthearted film that, during its best moments, depicts both the intrigues and drawbacks of female empowerment. Anne Hathaway portrays Jules, the youngish CEO of her own wildly successful startup company. During its worst moments the plot finds her ready to relinquish control of her hard-won position in hopes of repairing her broken marriage.

Said to be a bit unconventional, Jules is practically a saint, but a saint on the cusp of losing her mojo. She works long hours attempting to promote “About the Fit,” her online clothing company that guarantees the clothing women order from her website will fit (can you visualize Nancy Meyers, glass of chardonnay in hand, selecting clothes from her computer and then being crestfallen when they don’t fit as advertised).

Regardless of the real-life female dilemma, in truth, the movie belongs to Ben (Robert De Niro), a 70-year-old widower and retired businessman whose desire to find purpose in retirement prompts him to become an intern at Jules’s company.

Assigned as Jules Intern, Ben finds her to be a reluctant mentor who suggests he transfer to another department because she has little for him to do. But Ben sticks around and sets about proving to Jules, and thus to himself, that his contributions are relevant. Indeed, after hitting a few speed bumps, Ben becomes Jules’s right-hand man, best friend and finally her savior.

His wisdom and ability to be there whenever Jules or any co-worker needs sound advice leads Jules to ponder the role of men in today’s changing world.

During their scenes together Ben and Jules outline several topics that relate to their lives but in a fairly superficial manner.

Meyers seems intent upon moving both characters forward in a manner that feels unearned, as if the insights that arise from simply being in one another’s presence provide all the elements required for character development.

“The Intern” isn’t a bad movie, but it dangles the prospect of being a much better movie before us, then drops the ball by fixing up the characters’ lives by solving all of their problems with pat answers. This leaves us with transformations too easily obtained to be believed. Hathaway and De Niro do more than others could or would to be convincing, but even these talents can only mug and tear up in so many ways before the idea that cleansing our souls through emotional quickies loses its luster.


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