- on Friday, 25 September 2015 15:12
- by Frank Wilkins
Writer/director Nancy Meyers (The Parent Trap, Something’s Gotta Give) takes on the American generation gap and mixes in clichéd beats of gender role reversal in her latest called The Intern, a film which would come and go without much notice were it not for the surprising chemistry shared by its two leads, Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway. Though never enough to overcome the film’s numerous imperfections, the pair are an enjoyable enough bright spot to keep us watching much longer than we should.
Meyers’ films have always been noted for their strikingly poignant and delightfully humorous explorations of human relationships, at the center of which is typically a warm friendship that gets run through the wringer of life’s day-to-day agony. In The Intern, that friendship takes center stage in the form of retired widower and septuagenarian Ben Whitaker (DeNiro) and 30-something dotcom entrepreneur Jules Osten (Hathaway).
The two first meet when Ben is selected for a coveted “senior internship" at Jules’ fast-growing online clothing company called About the Fit. Since retirement, Ben’s life has been an empty shell he’s tried to fill with yoga classes, birdhouse building, cooking lessons, and trips around the world. Overtaxed Jules doesn’t recall okaying the internship program and is especially put-off by the idea of having an old man follow her around all day. Ben gets his first taste of Jules’s type-A personality when their first encounter is punctuated by her deadpan greeting, “I’m glad you also see the humor in this.”
But naturally, the office hipsters who practice casual Friday dress every day of the week, soon begin to warm to Ben as he dispenses sagely advice about such long-forgotten notions as chivalry and men’s fashion from behind a desk lovingly appointed with old-school leather attache case, digital calculator, and circa ‘90s flip-phone. He’s an analog fish in a digital sea of sleek Apple products but his inspiration, that reminds the techies to look up from their devices and really engage with one another, never goes out of style.
And down that same high-minded conceptual road goes the relationship between Ben and Jules as Meyers’ story takes on such heady topics as women in business, retirement, and remaining relevant in today’s rat-race. The irony is piled on thick as Jules eventually figures out that there’s a lot to learn from Ben – like the importance of engaging other people on a personal level and how to strike a better balance between work and personal life.
Meyers sprinkles the proceedings with a tirade of occasionally funny jokes involving the computer illiteracy of seniors and the slovenliness of millennials’ office habits, but it’s never enough to make us forget about the film’s low points – especially one involving Ben and his young co-workers as they break into a house to interrupt an unintended email. And let’s not forget the tired sex gag scene involving Ben and the house masseuse (Renee Russo) as she gives a preview of her skills at Ben’s desk. Both scenes are silly and feel awkwardly out of place.
The Intern loses a lot of its steam as its final act approaches. Hathaway plays much better against DeNiro’s pin-striped persona when she’s biting into her role with a Miranda Priestly boorishness. The entire experience loses its edge as Jules softens up to Ben’s mentoring. Also gone is Meyers’s breezy banter and witty dialogue, replaced by heavy musings about professional women, romantic infidelity, and the virtues of forgiveness. Though all worthy discussion topics for a movie like this, Meyers stumbles with her transition into the film’s payoff.
The Intern has a lot of important things to say about the generation gap in today’s workplace, but other than a pair of brilliant turns by DeNiro and Hathaway – who nearly win us over with their electric chemistry, there’s simply not enough here to recommend this as anything more than a Redbox or Netflix rental.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language
Runtime: 121 mins
Director: Nancy Meyers
Writer: Nancy Meyers
Cast: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo
Tagline: Experience never gets old
Memorable Movie Quote: "Here you go... You're not as old as I thought you were."
Distributor: Warner Bros Pictures
Official Site: http://www.theinternmovie.com/
Release Date: September 25, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: January 19, 2016.
Synopsis: 70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.
Available on Blu-ray - January 19, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit); French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps); Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); UV digital copy; Digital copy; DVD copy
Region Encoding: A
It looks decent despite its lower bit rate (22.11 on a BD-50 equals about the half the disc being wasted). The 1080p AVC encode compliments some very unforgiving production design, showing the many whites and blacks cleanly and consistently. Colours, more from production choices than the transfer, pop against the background.
The 5.1 lossless DTS-HD track is much like the movie: competent, well executed but nothing whizz bang about it.
Featurettes x3 are the only special features.
- Learning from Experience (4:46)
- Designs on Life (6:07)
- The Three Interns (5:46)