Millennials reverse business roles in ‘The Intern’
Has the spread of technology rewritten business and personal communication for the betterment of society? Writer/producer/director Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Holiday,” “Something’s Gotta Give,” “What Women Want”) casts Anne Hathaway as Jules the creator and go-to decision maker of a skyrocketing Internet clothing company. As its success widens so do responsibilities for Jules, who has a strong controlling passion for its future, including trite details that assist in branding it a winner.
70-year-old Ben Whittaker (Robert DeNiro) has used up his frequent flyer miles and visited his relatives. Now a widower, he feels lost coming home to an empty house and empty schedule. Ben is drawn to an aggressive startup in search of a senior intern who’s versed in protocols, smart phones and messaging. An immediate challenge – a video resume.
Once entering the laid back employee culture, his executive experience pairs him with Jules, who’s overwhelmed in her business and personal lives. Afraid to trust, she maintains a tight reign on her privacy once transferring Ben for being too observant.
“The Intern” shakes up more than the usual gaps between young people and seniors. Hathaway has multiple standards clashing against each other, ranging from stay at home dad notions, female corporate executive persona, and the values of patience and life experience wisdom which thrust networking, teaching and friendship opportunities upon an alleged aged dinosaur.
DeNiro is charming as a harmless man seeking new creative experiences to fill holes in his latter years. Instead of standing still, he gets with the program(s), proving to himself and others that extinct print job aside, business principles apply on line or in person.
Much of the comedy/drama forms from his availing openness to new culture and the awkward people skills of Jules, who hasn’t taken time to type more than a few letters of the alphabet before moving on to the next chirp.
Courtesy of Meyers screenplay and an uncanny chemistry between DeNiro and Hathaway, “Intern” scratches but does not tread too indelicately on the May-December romance, shifting the older gentleman’s attention to a younger yet age appropriate choice, the in-house massage therapist, Fiona (Rene Russo), who’s first date occurs at a funeral. This cements the affable DeNiro as an unrelated ‘father figure’ and quasi mentor. His time driving Ms. Jules places him in the busy, dysfunctional ‘family,’ where she’s losing the balancing marriage and capitalism equation.
Multitasking and computer skill adaptations aside the sophisticated romp unmasks an elephant stumbling along the hierarchy — in Jules’ words — guys left behind in the ‘you go girl’ generation. They do the “boys’ thing well on a mini-caper and Hathaway impresses in a passionate bonding break through.
The film does not many laugh out loud moments, but the diversity interactions are … priceless, whether you be a he or she.