2015 / Director. Nancy Meyers.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
THE INTERN, as a title, leaves a lot to be desired. It conjures expectations of a typical run-of-the-mill formula comedy and does little to inspire interest. If it weren't for a well constructed trailer I would have had very little interest in the film at all. The saving grace is Nancy Meyers. She's a competent filmmaker whose previous work includes WHAT WOMEN WANT, THE HOLIDAY and SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE. She has picked up where Nora Ephron left off and I am happy to venture into anything she makes.
And so THE INTERN, with it's less than rousing title, stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway and tells the story of a 70 year old man who applies for a new senior internship program at a trendy new e-commerce fashion company. With an open mind and willingness to learn, he finds himself thrown head-deep into a youthful environment that he can barely comprehend and is assigned as the personal intern to the company's young and tenacious CEO. What begins as a fish-out-of-water story quickly develops into a personal story of generational influence, experience and respect.
Of course it is all very formulaic and viewers get exactly what they expect. Where the film works most is in the rapport between DeNiro and Hathaway. The film went through various casting stages where Michael Caine was cast along with Tina Fey, before Reese Witherspoon took over the role. It's hard to imagine any of them headlining the film (particularly Fey and Witherspoon) and so in retrospect it is a relief to have DeNiro and Hathaway ended up at the reigns. They play off each other really well and the age gap feels right.
DeNiro offers a soft and endearing performance as the widower who wants more out of life. He taps into a subtler style of comedy that his previous comical roles have lacked in recent years. At times he overdoes the whimsical facial expressions, however, his character is entirely likeable and he is such a joy to watch. In turn Hathaway flexes her propensity for this brand of comedy and proves that she's one of the best when it comes to this sort of material. Her performance is not far removed from her roles in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and BRIDE WARS and she has been given a lot more dramatic depth to work with.
The biggest surprise of THE INTERN is, indeed, its dramatic tone. With the facade of a light comedy it proves to be a genuinely dramatic and sincere story that is well layered and explored. Pitting the two protagonists within their own personal predicaments amongst a lighter environment gives the movie an edge that other comedies of this type lack, and while there is no new ground trodden there is certainly a huge amount of appeal to please most viewers. The generational gags are well written and the dynamics between the young hipsters and DeNiro's aged character are both amusing and sweet. Mutual respect is given to both generations with equal ridicule from both sides.
THE INTERN holds up well and promises an uplifting and touching two hours of entertainment. Nancy Meyers continues to cement her position as a go-to “chick flick” queen (although I hate that term) and has delivered a worthy and consummate film that is sure to please most audiences.