The Intern – Film Review by C.K. MacNamara
Director/Writer: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam DeVine
Overly obvious and reliant entirely on its veteran leads The Intern is a romantic comedy without romance or comedy, leaving the question – what is it?
The latest gaudy instalment in Myers middle class utopian cinematic universe, the film hinges on DeNiro’s performance as protagonist Ben Whittaker, a retired phonebook factory worker. With both himself and his industry rendered irrelevant by the internet age, he attempts to fill the void of his autumn years through a seniors internship programme run by fashionista CEO Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) and her trendy internet fashion start-up – in the sense that it is a kindergarten of plaid shirted hipsters puttering about on indoor bicycles, because they just weren’t “trendy” enough already.
The cursory humour of having the elderly DeNiro fumble with technology is interspersed with crude dick jokes, disarming Meyer’s burgeoning attempts to craft some sort of serious commentary on the nature of the female business leader.
The central back and forth between DeNiro and Hathaway’s character quickly becomes blurred in tacked on subplots and threadbare secondary characters. Attempts to kill any hypothetical romance between the two lead to even more half-baked side stories that offer nothing to help a plot already struggling to go anywhere.
The neo-feminist icon of Jules is contrasted with her babbling man-children employees, with the gentleman Ben serving as a counterbalance to the clueless adolescents, guiding them in the values of handkerchiefs and chivalry. This grossly top heavy writing only emphasises the shortcomings of Myers characters as she attempts to lecture on what a “real man” should be from behind her 2D cutouts.
Overall, the genuine sentimentality of DeNiro and Hathaway’s relationship fights a losing battle with low brow humour and clumsy attempts at social commentary, ultimately failing to utilise the scripts premise. In spite of its merits the movie amounts to a cheap gaudiness, with the few competent actors unable to hide the hollowness underpinning everything else.