We can say with certainty that it is the quality of Robert De Niro’s acting rather than the quantity of roles which make him one of the greatest living actors of all time. However it is worth mentioning that at present he has 105 acting credits to his name including seven projects which are either completed or in pre-production. He just turned 72 years old. To traverse generations and decades morphing from a terrifying heavy in a multitude of roles to a sweet and nurturing elder is no small task. De Niro inhabits his characters so completely that he lives in our minds as Travis Bickle, Jake La Motta and Young Vito Corleone, he can now reserve a space as the irresistibly endearing and charming Ben Whittaker in THE INTERN.
Writer/Director Nancy Meyer has mastered the magic of making us believe and feel that we are watching ourselves onscreen. Each of her characters – regardless of age or gender – resonate deeply with the audience. She has a gift for crafting modern icons, and love them or hate them – they are us. Her dialogue is smart, modern, never stilted or awkward, lightening fast and funny. Meyer has also directed many of our most famous leading men in what have become unforgettable roles; Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin and now Robert De Niro.
As Ben Whittaker, retired widower and super sharp dresser, De Niro applies for, and wins, a prized “Senior Intern” spot at one of e-commerce’s hottest fashion sites. The company was created by and is run by the perpetually overwhelmed and regularly eye-rolling Brooklyn hipstress Jules Ostin played by Anne Hathaway. Hathaway doesn’t exhibit a great deal of range in her acting regardless of the role. She can be self-righteous and fragile while fighting within an inch of her life to be competent. That pretty much sums up her career. But she does “that” well and this role is no exception. The movie belongs to De Niro who pulls at our heart strings and enchants us. Beyond his crisp dialogue, his facial expressions and nuances in his mannerisms are unparalleled and he is delightful. He is bolstered by a trio of fantastic young dudes played by Adam DeVine (WORKAHOLICS, PITCH PERFECT), Zack Pearlman and newcomer Jason Orley. The interdependence between Ben and his three younger co-workers is the best part of the film. It is sweet, riotously funny and completely believable. Linda Lavin steals the two small scenes she is in and Rene Russo is hard to resist as Ben’s love interest.
THE INTERN is, unfortunately, predictable. Writer/Director Meyers is not known for surprising her audiences with sudden gut-wrenching plot twists. There are however some small surprises in the film which are the sprinkles on an already delicious sundae, and while you won’t be sitting on the edge of your seats, the process of watching it all unfold is lovely and captivating. Aside from it’s lack of suspense, there are two notable missteps in the film but those notwithstanding it’s easy to like. One glaring discordance is the film’s score. Sweeping swells of string music are distracting, and stand in awkward contrast to the hipster milieu of the company where Ben is interning. The music does a serious disservice to the film by sonically pigeonholing it as an old ‘fuddy-duddy’s’ movie which it most certainly is not. Ben Whittaker is the coolest guy around and when the soap opera muzak starts you want to puncture your eardrums to escape it. Anders Holm, an additional WORKAHOLICS cast member, is all wrong as Jules’ husband Matt. He is soft, sweet and a totally passive doormat, which is not remotely believable as a mate for Jules. The cinematography by Stephen Goldblatt makes Brooklyn look like the Garden of Eden and both Jules’ and Ben’s classic New York townhouses are stunning.
Amid the laughs and charm of the film, Meyer slips in some powerful feminist credo and it’s deftly delivered by De Niro. Every company should have a Ben Whittaker and while they’re at it terminate ‘casual Fridays.’ the work world would be better, kinder, and wiser. And so would we.(4 / 5)
Director: Nancy Meyer
Cast: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley
Running Time: 121 minutes
THE INTERN Movie Review