Mark Reviews Movies

The Intern


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Nancy Meyers

Cast: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Anders Holm, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Rene Russo, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some suggestive content and brief strong language)

Running Time: 2:01

Release Date: 9/25/15

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Review by Mark Dujsik | September 24, 2015

A 70-year-old man gets an internship at an Internet startup company. "It's hard not to" see the humor in this premise, the man says at one point, after his boss tells him that she appreciates he sees it. "That's hysterical," the movie's requisite precocious kid says later. The Intern has to keep telling us this is supposed to funny, and that should tell you everything you need to know about this movie.

It's a one-joke affair, and the joke isn't even funny. The retired widower, who wants more from his golden years, is seemingly out of place in the fast-paced world of online commerce. Of course, he proves everyone wrong, especially his seemingly humorless and anally retentive and work-obssessed-to-the-point-of-ruining-any-semblance-of-a-personal-life boss. He does so with his "old-school" charm and work ethic and principles about how to live and dress properly, making sure to teach Important Life Lessons to everybody, especially that workaholic, constantly harping, and can't-keep-a-family-in-order boss of his. By the way, his boss is a woman, so writer/director Nancy Meyers' movie shows itself to be "old-school" in far less charming ways.

Hey, though, the boss does say something about sexism in business at one point, so clearly she's in the know. She also has a big speech about how women have come so far over the course of one generation that those poor men have been reduced to dressing like children and spending their days playing video games. Yes, these poor, poor men have it so tough, forced by feminism to live comfortably without any pressure to behave and dress in certain ways, lest they be seen as overbearing harpies in the workplace or ill-fit for a family when they have a career or hysterical wrecks if they react emotionally to a problem in their lives.

"'Girls' became 'women,'" she decries, "but 'men' became 'boys.'" If only every man could be like Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), her trustworthy and saintly intern, who offers her constant validationóbecause she, as a woman, apparently needs itóand carries around a handkerchief for the inevitable moment when a woman becomes an emotional wreck and needs to wipe the streaming tears from her face. Ben explains it in slightly more affable termsóbut only slightly.

The bit about the handkerchief turns out to be the big takeaway from all of this for Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), the boss. She wishes her husband had a hankie when she needs one near the end of the movie. It ignores the fact that the only reason she needs one in the first place is because he's a thoughtless cad who partially blames her drive to succeed for his behavior, but hey, Jules is critical of sexism that one time in the movie, after a CEO candidate calls her online clothing store a "chick company." Certainly that compensates for everything else, right?

The movie's attitudes in this regard are troublesome (Also of note are Jules' assistant, played by Christina Scherer, who also needs constant support or she becomes a crying mess and the in-house masseuse, played by Rene Russo, who is perfect for Ben because he becomes aroused while she rubs his back). It would be letting the movie off too easily to just focus on this element, though.

This is simply a lazy movie. The most effort Meyers puts into the screenplay is in trying to cram in as many useless subplots as possible in an attempt to bolster the weak premise. There's Jules' family life, which is coming apart because she's always busy and her husband (Anders Holm) is having an affair. There's a short bit of conflict in which Jules, uncomfortable with his insights into her life, has Ben transferred, but it's resolved instantly. For some reason, there's a scene in which Ben and his fellow interns break into Jules' mother's house to delete an email before the mother returns home from work. That scene, as well as a slew of scenes involving the characters dillydallying around as Meyers hopes something will be amusing, serves no purpose. It and the other scenes feel like extraneous padding, existing just so some things happen.

When it's not trying to forcibly pull laughs out of nothing or to unconvincingly shift old-fashioned ideas about gender roles into something modern, The Intern turns sappy. It's the last, desperate trick in the book, and the results are as pitiful as the rest.

Copyright © 2015 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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