The Intern is Clichéd but Endearing
Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Written by: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam DeVine
Running time 121 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language
70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has become bored with retirement. When the opportunity to join a senior intern at an online fashion site arises, Ben jumps at the opportunity. After being assigned to the frequently difficult founder Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), Ben, and Jules soon realize that he soon has much left to offer, as they slowly become best friends. When Jules is confronted with the possibility of losing control of her company to an outside CEO to appease nervous investors Ben sticks by her side, because he sees someone that unapologetically deserves the success she has achieved.
This comedy is hampered by a parade of tropes, and a script that feels underdeveloped, in spite of being well written. It is redeemed by the fact that the underlying content of the film is worthwhile, with strong performances. Often the point of the film was lost while they search for something funny for De Niro to do or say. While there is no reason to take issue with his performance, or even his delivery, often I felt the edges had been removed from this film as to not injure or offend. The comedy contained within the intern was not terribly original but it was still satisfyingly funny. Rather than be impressed with the comedy I was more impressed, and intrigued by the story on display. The positive display of gender roles both with the female executive and the stay at home father was encouraging primarily because if they were not the source of the comedy, they were not in those roles to get laughs they were in them because that it was necessary for those characters. It may be easy to criticize it screenwriter and Director Nancy Meyers for pulling punches in what appeared to be an attempt to not make any one character two unappealing but I don’t believe that hurt the movie in the end, it was after all a comedy.
In-between the jokes and the plot points the film felt lifeless, perhaps it was a lack of diversity in the supporting cast that failed to reflect Brooklyn. When setting a film somewhere such as Brooklyn, whose population is one third black, I would at least expect to see that reflected in the supporting cast. It may seems like a small thing to some, but for me, it was a confusing omission, they may have well set the film in Salt Lake City, the film’s ethnic demographics would fit fairly well here. Again, I do not think this hurt the film, but it definitely did not help.
In reviewing what I wrote here, I feel I may be painting the wrong picture of this film. It is not boring, unfunny, or whitewashed. It is simply not as good as it potentially could have been. Nancy Meyers is a talented writer and director, I think perhaps she played it too safe with this film; it could have used a keener edge.