THE INTERN shows there’s nothing to be ashamed of with a safe, formulaic light-comedy, either in delivery or appreciation. Good-natured writer-director Nancy Myers scores again with this non-frenetic (thank you), non-abrasive (wow, nice characters–go figure) 2015 entry in a field too often pounded into grimace territory by demographic-tuned profanity and mean slapstick.
70-year old Ben (Robert De Niro *) gets hired by an e-commerce fashion company as part of a ‘senior outreach’ hiring gambit. Work-submerged boss ‘Jules’ (Anne Hathaway) is skeptical, but Ben’s decency wins her over and has a salutary effect on the company. Aside from a prickly domestic crisis that could have thrown the movie out of whack had it not been so thoughtfully handled, that’s really about it in a conventionally episodic scheme, but the 121 minutes flow quite pleasantly. The gags about age and experience aren’t insulting, points about mores and decorum are deft and while it might not be a homer, it’s a comfortable run to third base.
“Nobody calls men “men” anymore. Have you noticed? Women went from “girls” to “women.”Men went from “men” to “boys?” This is a problem in the big picture. Do you know what I mean?”
It’s also a visually attractive and quiet picture, with smiles and chuckles, charm sufficient to harness a $195,000,000 payoff on a $35,000,000 rollout. DeNiro plays it calmly, casually (ala Spencer Tracy) taking command of some scenes without seemingly trying and giving others away when it suits the material. Hathaway—smart, unmannered, effortlessly camera-friendly—finds herself turning the tables on her role from The Devil Wears Prada, only this time she’s in charge (and much nicer than Meryl Steep’s witch-from-Hades). If the typical situation comedy churned out today feels like four cups of coffee on an empty stomach, this one is like lemonade on a hot day. Cute, gentle, sweet and refreshing, it also makes a good case for the civilized and crucial role of handkerchiefs.
With Rene Russo, Anders Holm (getting the Jeff Daniels dick-role that many female viewers will no doubt grudgingly hold against him), Andrew Rennelis, Adam Devine, Zack Perlman, JoJo Kushner, Christina Scherer and Linda Lavin.
- * Digest for a start that Robert De Niro is now in his 70s. De Niro of The Deer Hunter, The Godfather 2 and Taxi Driver is a senior citizen: then face your own wrinkles as you realize he’s been one for nearly a decade…”where have all-ll my marbles gone…?”