********* 7 out of 10 *********
Director: Nancy Meyers
Actors: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway
Once in a while you do need to get out of the post-apocalyptic scenarios Hollywood keeps on imagining. And even those where superheroes are working overtime to save mankind. Simpler feel-good movies seem to be a disappearing breed, and so when one comes along with top notch actors, we need to grab them. The Intern is such a movie in a franchise-filled 2015, which is bright, vibrant, laced with happiness for most parts, and touches the heart without becoming too sentimental. It’s a pleasant diversion from the blockbusters of the year where cars are falling off cliffs, dinosaurs are running rampage, Terminators are coming back, spies are around every corner, and even the Minions have been sent on a mission. I do enjoy all the big-sized blockbusters that Hollywood keeps churning (I love them!), but now and then, something simpler and softer like The Intern, carrying two heavyweight actors, is just what the doctor ordered.
The Intern begins with 70-year old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) applying for a senior internship program at a young online fashion company run by workaholic Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Needless to say, Whittaker – who is looking for a purpose in life after his retirement – gets the job and finds himself placed as Ostin’s personal intern. Ostin isn’t too thrilled with the idea, but she goes along with it. From there begins one of the sweetest cinematic partnerships as Hathaway comes to find a friend in Whittaker even though her personal and professional lives are getting badly messed up.
The Intern has a comfortably-paced simple story which never goes overboard, and does not dwindle afar from the main theme for too long. Nancy Meyers has written and directed the film, and she knows a thing or two about making your heart swell with happiness, right from her directorial debut with The Parent Trap, and also the subsequent romantic-comedies What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give. But while a ‘feel-good’ movie is generally a rom-com nowadays, the beauty about The Intern is that it ain’t. It could easily have brought in a young actor to play the intern and win over the work-obsessed boss (a bit like The Proposal), but Nancy Meyers chose something else to depict, something so much necessary in life and yet somehow not shown often enough in movies – friendship. The Intern is a story of two people understanding each other, learning from each other, and growing because of each other. It’s that kind of camaraderie brought in by Meyers which makes this movie a bit special. There is a whole lot of humour in the film, which will have you in splits, and lesser focus on emotions that might overburden your heart.
Charming as the story might be, The Intern needed two good actors to make that rare old-young friendship work on screen. Well, it got two of the best in the business. Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway – 40 years apart in real life – make for the most unrealistic of pairings, and yet, they just nail every scene with aplomb. Robert De Niro is a master in ever acting department for me, and right from the beginning, when he is shooting his video application, you will find it hard not to adore him. He makes Whittaker prim and proper, all suited up, chivalrous, and experienced. There is a scene where Ostin says that men like Whittaker are a dying breed, and I would repeat that for the actor De Niro. To be able to fill the shoes of any character with such ease requires dedication and hardwork which a whole new generation of actors could learn from. But Anne Hathaway would certainly make him proud! Such a talented actress, Hathaway makes for an inspiring entrepreneur in the movie; she brings forth the struggle that Ostin is facing in managing a busy professional life along with her family commitments. She shifts through the emotions, strong when needed, vulnerable at other times, and soon you will be caring about her as much as Whittaker does. It’s however the combination of these two actors that wins the day. They complement each other beautifully, bring variety to the screen, and have a fantastic chemistry which is a joy to watch.
There is a good supporting cast in The Intern adding to the fun factor. Three colleagues of Whittaker, played by Adam DeVine, Jason Orley and Zack Pearlman, make for quite a gang, and especially the home break-in scene is really hilarious. Rene Russo adds an uncomplicated and rather pleasant romance in De Niro’s life in the movie. Christina Scherer is the chirpy and sensitive employee working directly under Ostin. Anders Holm plays Ostin’s soft-spoken husband and little JoJo Kushner is their adorable daughter.
Nancy Meyers does not get the hearts fluttering this time with The Intern but she still brings out another form of love – the love of friendship – that is equally powerful. A wonderful partnership between De Niro and Hathaway lights up the movie right from the beginning, and from thereon little could go wrong. We need a bit more of such movies, ones that avoid gloominess and despair, and rather celebrate relationships in a joyous manner. We do need them!