The Intern

Posted by Joel Copling on September 26, 2015

The point, at first, is that the older man needs the experience of being with the younger crowd and in the company of the younger woman. The point, by the end, becomes that the younger woman needs the older man's perspective and wisdom to cope with some serious personal issues from which she has suffered recently. But according to director Nancy Meyers's screenplay for "The Intern," this is a moldy, old log of a film that misses both points and instead focuses on its one-joke-with-a-lame-punch-line premise and random, unfunny subplots that largely go nowhere or are tidied completely by an obvious third act that doesn't do the film any favors. Mostly, though, the film is trying to say that Ben Whitaker (and, to be more specific, Robert De Niro, who plays him) is old.

Everything about the first half of Meyers's screenplay, which seems to have been written in the 1990s, dusted off, and lightly updated to fit the 2010s, revolves around Ben's age. Not everything is a verbal or visual gag (There are, thankfully, no jokes of the hemorrhoidal variety), but there is a fair share of those, too. The funerals of dear friends are confined to a few, supposedly amusing moments of the realization of one's own mortality. When he arrives at the upstart Internet business, the presence of some of the other faces there seems entirely predicated upon the actor either referencing current social media or hearing a harried secretary use a trendy shorthand for the word "casual" in front of him. It comes as faux-surprise when he admits to his boss that he's a fan of a popular young-adult series about a boy wizard. I could go all day with this.

And that's because Ben (and, again, De Niro) is old. The actor is fine in a role that he could (and probably should) have played in his sleep, but so much here is at the expense of the man's age that it's no wonder an entire plot point is built around it: The Internet upstart, headed by thirtysomething Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), is hosting a senior citizen as (You guessed it) an intern for six weeks. The business is one that sells clothes online, but it's moving too swiftly into the realm of coming on too strong (It has hit its five-year goal in nine months, says one executive) and needs a C.E.O. to come in and take over control. Ben is assigned as Jules' personal assistant and, later, driver, which means he gets to be an observer into her personal life and, perhaps (as in, definitely), teach her something about it.

The film proceeds to reach something of a non-conclusion about who needs whom as it comes closer to the end credits. Both people generally have their heads on straight when it comes to applying decisions to their lives. Ben proves everyone wrong fairly quickly and becomes the popular guy around the office--check. Jules sends a pair of emails she regrets immediately afterward and solves them in entirely different ways that both kind of say everything about her--check. Mildly diverting drama appears in the form of a love interest for Ben (a masseuse played by a welcome but under-utilized Rene Russo) and familial discord for Jules (a cheating husband played by Anders Holm)--check. The final ten minutes tidies everything up in pretty wrapping paper with a cute bow on top, including the need for a love interest for Ben and the credibility of redemption for the cheating husband--check. If it isn't clear, everything about "The Intern" is annoyingly preordained.

Film Information

Robert De Niro (Ben), Anne Hathaway (Jules), Rene Russo (Fiona), Adam DeVine (Jason), Anders Holm (Matt), Zack Pearlman (Davis), Andrew Rannells (Cameron), Linda Lavin (Patty).

Directed and written by Nancy Meyers.

Rated PG-13 (suggestive content, brief language).

121 minutes.

Released on September 25, 2015.