Peter Capaldi as Dr. Who
My kids love watching Dr. Who because you never know when an alien with a box that is bigger on the inside than the outside might show up. My husband watches Bears football with the hope something better might happen than what actually shows up on the playing field. When I watched The Intern starring Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway, I knew immediately I was watching fantasy.
DeNiro plays a retired businessman who decides that maybe he wants to do something more with his life than hang out at Starbucks and avoid the merry widow.
He applies for a ‘senior’ internship program at a local business that has gotten big fast. His assignment is to do whatever the boss wants him to do, typical internship stuff. But this guy is no ordinary guy. He gets tired of waiting for the boss to give him something to do and finds things that need to be done, such as explaining marketing stuff, being helpful to his co-workers, and helping them figure out relationship and life stuff.
But for Hathaway, having him around as an intern is difficult. She sees he is too smart, too observant, and willing to say something in the best way possible but still willing to say it. She wants him shifted somewhere else until she spends the day with him. She fears his knowledge while desperately needing it.
Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway in The Intern
Hathaway may be running a multi-million dollar business but she still tries to have a life. She is a little Miranda Priestly, a little Andy Sachs. Tough minded but friendly, knows what she wants and willing to say it but will also get hands-on if necessary.
I can’t help but compare this movie to The Devil Wears Prada which came out only 9 years ago. Would Miranda have benefited from an intern such as DeNiro? Maybe but she swam in shark-infested waters. Hathaway has decisions to make that are not nearly as life threatening.
The thing is, both movies rely on the chemistry of the two leads. They rely on the older character being a mentor to the younger. But in The Intern, that older person is more like a friend who is willing to point you in the right direction. That is the fantasy part, of having an older more knowledgeable person fall in your lap at just the right time. And that the wise older person will become your friend in so many ways.
DeNiro pulls this off. He is old school but not in that insufferable smug way some people have about them. His character made a career out of helping people, and he is still doing it. Not to say he can’t lay down an insult or come up with a heist plan when needed. Hathaway plays well against him as the no-nonsense business woman who knows the deals of her life and yet enjoys being quirky. But she is saddled with various issues that leads to giving a feminism speech towards the middle that is a bit muddled.
It comes down to the leads characters whom we believe. It comes down to supporting staff who fill their roles perfectly, including Rene Russo as the company massage therapist and Adam Devine as a worker bee at the company.
Would I watch this movie again? I think the answer is yes despite some of the awkwardness director Nancy Meyers cannot quite get smoothed out despite the charm of her actors. Meyers has made a good movie but not a perfect one. I would have rather seen Hathaway maintain a certain amount of edge throughout the movie, including when she has to deal with the defining issues of her life.
It is a movie meant for college-aged students and twenty-somethings as they will relate to the younger crowd as well as those of us who are older that are drawn towards DeNiro and his old-fashioned styles and behavior – like showing up to work on time and properly dressed.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.