I went to see The Intern last night and it was thoroughly delightful. In addition to great acting from Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, the plot is mostly comedic with a little bittersweet thrown in, and very engaging.
Ben Whittaker (De Niro), 70, retired, widowed, is finding retirement rather empty and as the movie opens, he’s describing his life for us in what we realize a bit later is a video application for a senior internship with an online start-up fashion site, About the Fit, the brain-child of Jules Ostin (Hathaway), workaholic, married, 1 daughter, Paige (JoJo Kushner), and stay-at-home husband/father, Matt (Anders Holm).
The internship program is the idea of Jules’ right-hand man, Cameron (Andrew Rannells), and it’s his decision to assign Ben as intern to Jules. Several other interns begin the same day as Ben and they’re all grouped together at laptops (Macs, of course) in the huge, open-concept workplace on the second floor of a rather nicely renovated factory. At first, Jules has nothing for Ben to do, so he passes the time learning about the site, giving his young friends the benefit of his experience in a wide range of areas, and striking up a relationship with office masseuse, Fiona (Rene Russo), an attractive blonde who is closer to Ben’s age than anyone of the other more than 200 employees. (For their first date, an unexpected change of plans takes them to a funeral.)
Things change for Ben when he spies Jules’ driver drinking on the job. He intervenes, tells the man to excuse himself to Jules, and takes over the driving tasks. He observes Jules’ home and work situations, and is able to subtly offer just the right support at just the right times. He is captivated by the precocious Paige (who, he comments, is pretty much a clone of her mom), but soon realizes that all is not as it seems on the home front. ( I found that really interesting as I’m reading Preschooled by Anna Lefler; review to come later.) Slowly, Jules learns to trust Ben’s judgment on many things. Faced with the decision of whether to hire a CEO, Jules finds her faith in herself shaken and it’s Ben she turns to for advice.
There are lots of laughs throughout the movie, and more than a few poignant moments. De Niro is perfect as the confident, congenial septuagenarian who makes good use of his time while patiently waiting for the opportunity to help in ways he knows only he can. Hathaway, also, strikes that perfect balance of the extremely competent, motivated, hands-on boss who is, nonetheless, close to burnout. The Intern is written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who brought us other fun, lighthearted comedies such as Something’s Gotta Give (2003), The Holiday (2006), and The Parent Trap (1998). * * * *