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Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Intern 2015 * * * 1/2 Stars

The InternDirector: Nancy Meyers
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Adam Devine

2015's The Intern (my latest review) is great. There I said it. This is feel good, cotton candy people. You stagger out of the theater with a sense of giddiness. Then you say to yourself, "wow, that's a real film". Its lead (Mr. Robert De Niro) has never been more likable. You wouldn't even know it's the same guy who played psychotics (Taxi Driver, Cape Fear), hardened criminals (Heat, The Family), and ornery grandpappys (Meet the Fockers, Little Fockers) some years ago. Crazy. With his co-star being Anne Hathaway (also very likable), screen chemistry is indeed abounding. A friendship develops between their characters producing an inner wallop. Now in all honesty, I don't ever cry at the movies. Here, I got the sniffles and that's saying something.

As directed by Nancy Meyers, "Intern" has one of her trademarks written all over it. That would be the adage of well-off people having problems (in relationships) that aren't life-threatening. You could also include the notion of two protagonists sharing scenes and being worlds apart in age (remember Keanu Reeves and Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give?). So yeah this flick is cutesy at times. Yeah it ends with a level of uncertainty (talking about cinema makes way for interpretation you know). Yeah it starts off sort of predictable. Yeah it has some nitwit, supporting characters and yes, there's a cringe-worthy boner gag (don't ask). But look closer and stick around for the full two hours (despite what other critics thought, the overlength didn't bother me). There's something deeper than what was advertised in the trailer. Here's a hint and spoiler alert (warning): The husband of Hathaway's persona (Matt Ostin played by Anders Holm), isn't much of a shade and doesn't hold the screen until his revelatory stance hits you up in the third act. Talk about a plot diversion in a so-called, mawkish comedy.

Shot near the perky side of Brooklyn, New York and featuring an email heist referencing caricatures from Ocean's Eleven, The Intern is a romcom without the "rom", a centerpiece sledgehammering facets of old age (you could also throw in older people's spar with newer technology). The story starts off without a struggle or conflict before later kicking into high gear. You have Ben Whittaker (De Niro), a widower who just wants some higher form of human interaction. He's retired, he's traveled the world, he hangs out at Starbucks, and when walking down the street, he gets hit on by weird women (Linda Lavin from the TV show Alice, who'd thunk it). Sadly, this is not enough for him. The solution: He signs up for a community outreach program in which seniors intern for thirtysomething boss, Jules Ostin (Hathaway). Ostin owns a Internet fashion company, built from the ground up. She's initially reserved, conservative, and off-putting. And her first impression of Ben is that he's too observant not to mention a little invading. Then things change. As time marches on, De Niro's Ben and Hathaway's Jules form a wonderful kinship. They eventually turn into best friends. Refreshingly, it was great to see two Oscar winners thrive at the top of their game. When they're on screen (together or separate), "Intern" is a real winner. When they aren't in frame (which hardly ever happens), the material is sadly, a little sluggish and kind of hackneyed.

Anyway, if you've recently watched The Internship (2013), you'll somewhat be reminded of The Intern. Both films start off similar yet the latter ascends to something much greater. Bottom line: Chalk up another round of effective, sentimental goo courtesy of the veritable Nancy Meyers. I'm gonna go with a rating of 3 and a half stars on this one.

Of note: De Niro's Ben Whitaker has a need to fill a void in his life. He's retired with money yet is bored. That's why he takes on the task of working in e-commerce territory. De Niro the actor, well he seems to be filling that same void (Bobby's rich but still likes to appear in three to four movies a year). With endeavors like Grudge Match, Last Vegas, New Year's Eve, and 2013's Killing Season, he hasn't been too picky about his projects. The Intern thankfully, reverses this trend. Mucho "De Niro" justified!

Written by Jesse Burleson

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