Movie review: 'The Intern' does a pleasant job

The Seattle Times

Slight but charming, Nancy Meyers' "The Intern" almost goes terribly wrong in its first minutes, but quickly rights itself. We meet Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a genial 70-year-old Brooklyn widower who, weary of retirement, has applied for a senior internship program at a startup fashion website. His neighbor (Linda Lavin), of similar age, expresses dismay that he would want to work in "e-commerce ... whatever that is," and wonders how it's possible to sell clothes online. I stifled a sigh ... was this going to be two hours of Isn't It Funny How Old People Don't Know What the Internet Is?

Nope: Ben, though he carries a flip phone and no laptop in his old-school briefcase, turns out to be extremely good at his job and quick to learn, and Jules (Anne Hathaway), the overworked boss who's half his age, rapidly comes to realize his worth. Soon, Ben's calling his millennial co-workers "dude" and helping them dress to impress ("You're saying you shave every day?" asks one, in wonder), while befriending Jules and her picture-perfect husband (Anders Holm) and daughter (JoJo Kushner).

That's pretty much the extent of it; everything unfolds pleasantly, full of the lavish interiors and perpetual niceness that Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give," "It's Complicated") is known for. (Jules' company is the prettiest startup you'll ever see.) There's a blandness to the writing that makes you wish for a little spikiness somewhere you wonder if Tina Fey, who was originally cast as Jules but eventually dropped out, might have sounded a welcome quirky note but De Niro brings a sweetness to his underwritten role that's irresistible, particularly in a wordless moment where Ben's remembering his late wife.

"The Intern" doesn't have much to do with real life (Jules' kid, for example, is less a child than an adorable prop), and if you've seen the trailer you've pretty much seen the entire movie. But sometimes, well-dressed fantasy plus popcorn is just the thing.


'THE INTERN'

2.5 stars

Cast: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells, Adam Devine, Celia Weston, Nat Wolff, Linda Lavin, JoJo Kushner.

Written and directed by Nancy Meyers.

121 minutes.

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


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