The Intern is adorable, and I’m not just talking about Robert De Niro and his portrayal of a senior (citizen) intern at a start-up website. The film as a whole is sweet, touching, and funny. It’s the kind of film we haven’t seen in a few years but saw so much of in the 90’s and early 00’s. In a way, the sweet nostalgia of a Nancy Meyers’ movie overpowers some of the film’s flaws.
The Intern stars Anne Hathaway as Jules, a modern day girlboss, who launched a successful online women clothing retailer. Anyone who runs a business—of any size—knows how busy it can be. Jules rides throughout the office on a bike to save time, overwhelms her assistant with a ton of work, and is constantly working to keep up with the job’s demands, while finding time to spend with her husband (Anders Holm) and daughter. However, the most important thing is—despite how stressful it is—she loves what she does; this is her dream job. Her company decides to do a little community outreach by hiring senior citizens as interns. It’s a silly little setup that allows seventy-year-old retiree, Ben (De Niro), to meet and strike what would become a meaningful friendship with Jules.
In fact, there are a lot of silly things about The Intern, like when Ben gets a surprise during a relaxing massage from the office masseuse (played by Rene Russo) or when he organizes a heist with his young co-workers (Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley) to delete an email. But these ridiculous moments work very well comically, if not feeling very organic to the main plot.
However, what really standouts about the film is the relationship that grows between Ben and Jules. Watching Jules slowly open up to Ben, and while I think the advice was often too one-sided (I think Ben also had a lot to learn from someone like Jules), their dynamic was the most rewarding part of the film. Hathaway brings a ton of charm to Jules; she’s definitely not a perfect character, but the performance was so engaging. Jules could’ve been easily be interpreted as superhuman, but Hathaway grounds her. De Niro was cute, and it was nice to see him take on a non-edgy role. Yet, in several ways, this was truly Anne Hathaway’s movie, and she shines.
After years of not seeing many films like The Intern but enjoying a wealth of well-made, authentic indie dramedies, it’s easier to scrutinize The Intern’s super polished and non-diverse world—with its way too quickly resolved problems. Earlier this week after seeing the film, I posted on Facebook whether or not a film’s lack of diversity should be counted against it. Most comments said that it shouldn’t, but that it’s still worth mentioning. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. The Intern is set in New York City and features an almost entirely white cast. How is it at all realistic for a story set in one of the most diverse cities not feature a person of color? This is beyond annoying, and it needs to stop. I saw so much of myself in Jules, and I don’t need to be white to relate to her, but at the same time, representation means a great deal to me. It’s fair to point out when a movie is not fully representing its setting.
It’s not much of a spoiler to say that The Intern has a happy ending; it’s that kind of movie. I left the theater in a good mood and satisfied because that’s what I expected and wanted at the moment. Reflecting on it now, I suppose I wanted more from that ending, proof that life doesn’t need a cheesy (and easy) happily ever after.
The Intern arrives in theaters September 25, 2015.