DVD Review - The Intern

Writer-director Nancy Meyers has made an old school or old-fashioned film, despite its setting. There are some modern and progressive ideas present here, but the way Meyers stitches and plots everything together feels like it could have been produced 50 or 60 years ago, which is fine if it didn't play things so extremely safe and cute. Yes, it's a light-hearted comedy, not intended to be serious at all, but, as such, it runs the risk of being dull or bland. It rides the fence too much. It's not heavy enough to be a drama. It also doesn't have enough jokes or set-pieces to be a comedy that's much funny.

Two-time, Oscar-winner Robert De Niro (Raging Bull and The Godfather: Part II) stars as Ben Whitaker, a 70-year-old, retired widower in Brooklyn who responds to a flyer calling for senior citizen interns at an online fashion company. Meyers writes a great, opening monologue that perfectly establishes Ben, how he is where he is and why he would respond to the flyer, eventually going along with this movie's premise.

Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables and Rachel Getting Married) co-stars as Jules Ostin, the founder and head of the online fashion company called About The Fit, or ATF. Meyers doesn't write anything that perfectly establishes her. Everything about her is discovered, mainly through Ben's eyes, but the movie's premise feels very contrived and forced from her perspective. The narrative, however, is built around Jules having to make a choice between her company and her personal life.

The problem is that we don't spend enough time examining Jules' personal life. Because the majority of time is Ben's point-of-view, we don't get much opportunity to examine her point-of-view. By the end, the final third of the film, we do get more of a peek at Jules' personal life, but, by then it's too late. Jules' business life is too dominant for too long. When we finally pivot to her personal life, aside from the cute moments with her daughter, it's too late.

Rene Russo (Nightcrawler and Get Shorty) plays Fiona, a masseuse who gives erotic massages. She meets Ben and is immediately smitten with him, but we're not sure why. Russo is quite frankly wasted because she and Ben don't really have a conversation, a real one that we see, so we never really get in her head.

Andrew Rannells (Girls and The New Normal) plays Cameron, a guy whose role in Jules' company is never spelled out. His position seems to be an executive one, but it's never clear. He plainly exists as someone to whom Jules can talk and deliver the contrived business stuff with which Jules has to contend.

Adam DeVine (Workaholics) plays Jason and Anders Holm (Workaholics) plays Matt. Both are funny but just not so here. They're simply not given much of anything to do. Jason supposedly has a crush on Jules' assistant but that's handled clunkily. Matt is Jules' husband and he's mostly a placeholder until the plot pivots but then it's too late for him as well.

Zack Pearlman (The InBetweeners and Mulaney) plays Davis, a schlubby fellow intern. Pearlman is funny, but his potential isn't fully realized either. As such, he feels more like padding and not essential. Any humor with him, especially in a weirdly placed, heist scene, feels extremely forced and not organic to the film.

Meyers is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter. This is her sixth feature as director and there doesn't seem to be much passion to it. It certainly doesn't have the passion or fun as her previous film, It's Complicated (2009). It's certainly not as funny, but in that previous film, she had better comedic actors at the center, that of Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. De Niro and Hathaway have done comedies before, but it's odd and awkward because the two are too mismatched and it's a friendship that I never bought.

One Star out of Five.
Rated PG-13.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 1 min.


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