The Intern and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Oh hey! Robert DeNiro is in yet another a wacky comedy because THAT always works out, right!? Sure, he was funny in… um… Brazil I think, but for every GOOD comedy he does, he makes a Focker trilogy or Rocky and Bullwinkle to remind you that he CAN be funny but tends not to pick good projects to show it. Still, there’s no denying that the man is a brilliant actor and he has a strong costar here in the form of Anne Hathaway who’s so good that she managed to be the most memorable aspect of a Batman movie. Will this be an enjoyable romp with two venerable actors, or will this be yet another embarrassing comedy for two people who you’d think would be above this kind of material? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about 70 year old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) who’s been retired for quite some time now and is sick to death of it, especially since his wife has recently passed away. He really doesn’t have anything else that he wants to do with his time and would rather find a way to be useful once again than spend the rest of his life going on vacations and learning Mandarin. Hope seems to come his way when he finds a flyer for a company that’s looking to bring retired people bring into the workforce as interns. The company in question, About the Fit, is run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) and the little startup has skyrocketed beyond her wildest dreams in a very short amount of time. All is not well though as some people at the company are wondering if she can handle everything now that the company has become such a hit. Will Ben finally find a passion for life again now that he has something to challenge him? Will Jules be able to manage her life as the CEO of this fashion retailer while still making time for her family? Will these two get into all sorts of hijinks because old people and young people working together is apparently a GOLD MINE for comedy!?
The problem with The Internet is that it never really gets up off the ground to become something meaningful. It has a strong cast and a fairly funny first half but by the time the second half rolls around, the movie just sputters out and doesn’t have anywhere to go for its remaining runtime. In all honestly it’s feels more like a pilot to a TV show than anything else, in that it gives you the setup and all the principal characters as well as a minor plot to get past that’s intentionally small enough so that future episodes can go bigger and further without having to be shackled to whatever happened in the original episode. That can work when you have a full season ahead of you and different ideas of where the series can go, but this is not a television show and I doubt that this is going to have a sequel. It’s very unlikely that the studio will get both Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway back for the further adventures of Ben and Jules which means that whatever potential this premise has by the end of the movie is useless because it won’t ever get a chance to be used fully. On top of that I didn’t like the whole “older generation is better than younger generation” theme that seems to be going throughout the movie. Anyone here who’s under thirty seems like they were written by Grandpa Simpson (in between bouts of yelling at clouds) in that there’s absolutely no competence or glamor for any of those characters. They’re usually bumbling idiot man children (or emotionally distraught girl women) who don’t know how to dress, can’t communicate effectively, and break down under pressure. There’s one guy who’s a competent human being, but what they do with him towards the end (one of the many reasons the second half is lousy) completely destroys any good will he brought to the movie and just furthers the view that young people are awful. On top of that, Robert De Niro’s character was just too perfect and never has a moment of weakness or reflection that would have made his character seem at least somewhat human. I like Robert DeNiro in this but he’s really just here to show how much better he is than everyone else to the point that Anne Hathaway spends a couple minutes explaining why The Greatest Generation was indeed the greatest generation.
Also, I don’t know if they trying to be cute or anything but they have scenes in here that play off like a really cheesy and cliché romantic comedy between Ben and Jules. Oh, the husband isn’t interested in going on a business trip with Jules? Well why don’t you take Ben instead? Oh, you’re in separate rooms at the hotel? Well why doesn’t someone pull the fire alarm so that you two have an excuse to see each other outside with your bathrobes on? Oh, you’re walking each other to your separate hotel rooms? Well why doesn’t Ben stay in Jules’s room so that he doesn’t have to make the arduous journey to his own room? Is he going to sleep in the chair? Well what kind of boss will Anne Hathaway be if you didn’t let you cuddle up to her in her own bed!? WHAT!?!?
The script is just weird in the way it’s put together with elements seemingly working against each other. It seemed to be walking a very fine line where it was trying to say something about sexism on the surface, but then underneath it had a very paternalistic attitude. Anne Hathaway is trying to hack it in a world that resent her for being a woman, but the only way she’s able to make it through all the trials that are being put in her way is because of this older dude who waltzes in and becomes her new daddy figure. The whole movie seems to be about tearing Anne Hathaway down so that she has to rely on Ben for a lot of things, and as likeable as both these actors are in their parts I just can’t buy their relationship even for a minute. It seem like the writer’s goal here was not to make a realistic relationship between two people that come from different generation, but to instead push for the message that old guys are hardworking dude and are so much better than anyone nowadays and you should probably go get one yourself. It’s like a promotional film about the benefits of hiring senior interns.
Aside from the seemingly counterproductive messages the movie is trying to impart, the story itself just doesn’t have any stakes to care about and the only big obstacle here feels manufactured. Anne Hathaway’s main problem in this movie is hardly even one that I can care about because there are some really obvious ways to fix this other than the two options that she’s been given. The idea is that the company that’s backing About the Fit is asking her to step down and find someone else to run the company. Now watching the movie, it’s clear that she’s being crushed under the weight of the responsibilities of her job and whether or not these are actual concerns from the parent company or if they’re just using it as an excuse to put it dude in charge, it’s clear that Anne Hathaway’s life is suffering because of how much she has to do every day. She has a daughter and a husband who barely get to see her anymore because of how much time she has to spend at work which is a pretty legitimate reason to find SOME way to lighten the load. And yet, it seems that the only option is to get one other person to do all of her job instead of… I don’t know, getting someone really competent to assist her in everything that she does. Like oh say… BEN!? Even if he’s not the right person for the kind of responsibility that she needs to unload, why is the only option being presented to her to give her job to a man? This isn’t so much a leadership problem as much as it is just a freaking staffing issue. Like I said, the company might be full of misogynistic assholes who just want a penis-haver at the top of the company, but then Anne Hathaway ONLY considers the ONE options presented to her instead of coming up with a solution that works for her. Either give up the creative control of your company, or… not. There’s no middle ground there?
The worst part in the entire movie is a scene right in the middle of the movie for Jules desperately (and irresponsibly) asks Ben to break into her mother’s house to steal her laptop. It’s just an excuse for hijinks and it really doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s even worse because what happens in this scene never brought up again and therefore makes it entirely pointless on top of being weak. There’s very clear indication that what happens in this scenes should lead to consequences for Jules, but it’s like they forgot to tie it back into the ending of the movie. That, or it was just a set piece they thought was just too hysterical to cut so they let it just sit there as a random aside in a movie that feels insubstantial already. It really is the warning shot to let us know what the rest if the movie will be like which is essentially an unfocused mess. The film has a strong start and likable cast, but it can’t keep up the momentum once it actually has to be about something. It might be worth seeing just to watch DeNiro and Hathaway work off of each other, but that’s about the only thing I can recommend here. Don’t waste your time seeing this in the theater when you can get all you need out of it from a Redbox rental or streaming it from Netflix.
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