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Dan's Review: De Niro getting soft in "The Intern"

Oct 08, 2015 03:22PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway in The Intern - © 2014 Warner Bros.

The Intern (Warner Bros.)

Rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language.

Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer, JoJo Kushner, Nat Wolff, Linda Lavin, Celia Weston, Steve Vinovich, Molly Bernard, C.J. Wilson.

Written and Directed by Nancy Meyers.

GRADE: B

REVIEW:

Remember when Robert De Niro was the baddest dude on the planet? As an actor, he could be intimidating. These days, De Niro in known by an entire generation as a big softie, a sweet old man or goofy fella. I think the last time he played a convincing gangster was in the Analyze This/That series, and even then, his character came out as serial hugger. This week, “Bobby” De Niro is the star of The Intern, a romantic comedy of sorts about a retiree who takes on an internship for a young executive.

De Niro plays Ben, a retired phone book publishing executive and widower who is hired as part of a senior citizen internship program by a successful “e-retail” company founded and led by the young and ambitious Jules (Anne Hathaway).  Ben’s old school gentlemanly ways immediately rub off on everyone he meets, including Jules, who eventually begins to trust him as a personal assistant and mentor. He also gets close to her family, including her little daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner) and house-husband Matt (Anders Holm). Ben also starts up a romantic relationship with the office masseuse Fiona (Rene Russo).

Things get complicated when Jules’ investors suggest she get a CEO to run the company. Jules’ personal life also takes a hit when Ben discovers her husband is having an affair. In the end, Jules’ must decide whether to stand on her own or take drastic measures to save company and her family. Ben provides her with much-needed comfort and counsel through it all.

The Intern is vintage Nancy Meyers, the writer/director who seems to churn out all sorts of gushy, romantic movies using aging actors (Baby Boom, Father of the Bride, Father of the Bride Part II, The Parent Trap, What Women Want, Something's Gotta Give, The Holiday, It's Complicated, etc.). Part of the Meyers formula also includes a strong female lead (Keaton, Streep, Hathaway) dealing with the complications of career, family and aging. The Intern is no different, and if you like that sort of thing, I suppose that’s good news. The Intern may not distinguish itself from other Meyers movies (or films like it), but it’s no worse, either.

One part of the movie that I found a little shaky was the extramarital affair story element, which is resolved rather vaguely. Another quibble I have is Nancy Meyers’ style, which makes her impeccable cast seem like they just stepped away from a fashion magazine shoot.

Hathaway is perfect for her role, which seems overly dependent on De Niro’s.

As for De Niro, he’s settling in nicely to his post-gangster persona quite nicely, and provides the heart and soul of a sweet little movie like The Intern. I’m not sure if he can ever go back to the “tough guy,” thing, but maybe he’s cool with that.


The Intern Trailer

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