May 6, 2016

[Movies] The Intern (2015)

We watched this movie a little while back since it was the sort of movie that had a lot of folks talking about it. We're not talking about the sort of buzz you get around a summer blockbuster, but it was just one of those movies that would repeatedly come up in conversations as a movie that someone had seen and had enjoyed.

I wasn't sure what to think of The Intern before sitting down to watch it. It was the sort of movie that had big name stars attached to it together with a somewhat quirky plot. The movie didn't particularly make waves in local theaters as far as I can recall. But here we are.

This movie falls under the category of those films that will somehow make you feel good with an inspiring nugget of a story and kind of goes from there. They use character archetypes that are familiar but not necessarily relatable and then they mix things all together and see what comes out.

It's a steady formula that works well enough. And I think they managed to hit their little sweet spot with this movie.

Synopsis: The Intern is a comedy movie co-produced, written and directed by Nancy Meyers. Robert De Niro was nominated for the Critics' Choice Award for Best Actor in a Comedy for this movie.

The movie centers around 70-year old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) learning of a program for senior citizens to become interns as a way to make use of their spare time. Without his wife in his life, it becomes an easy enough decision to give it a shot. The company in question is About the Fit, an e-commerce fashion retailer and is run by founder-CEO Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Ben manages to get hired for the program and is assigned to Jules herself as an assistant of some sort. But Jules is rather skeptical about the program and just wants to focus on her work without Ben's help. But over time Ben manages to endear himself to others and eventually to Jules as well.

The premise of the movie is very strange but I can see it happening. It is a rather practical way of engaging the senior community and allowing them to still contribute to something worthwhile. But I'm just not sure how many companies might go for it in real life. But hey. it's a movie.

It is interesting how Anne Hathaway managed not to turn her character into, well, Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada. I bet it was tempting to either the director or maybe for Hathaway herself given the immediate associations this would trigger. But they wisely created a new personality for Julie and I suppose that worked out for the best.

The movie is a series of repeated dumb luck for Ben, quite frankly. Just look at how he gets the job and how he manages to make himself useful to people in the company one after the other. And mishaps in Jules' work life disrupts her routine and again creates little bubbles for Ben to squeeze into until he's close to her heart. He moves with the power of the plot.

But throwing out my usual skepticism and the ability to spot a cheating husband character a mile away, the movie is quite the pleasant little ride. Both De Niro and Hathaway are obviously skilled actors and the two manage to play off one another really well. The shift in their on-screen chemistry from a cold relationship to the two being practically inseparable is well-done and quite heartwarming in its own way. And that's really the only really goal for the movie.

The Intern is the sort of feel-good tripe that can be a little cheesy at times but it's the sort of thing that we'd need on a bad day. The writing felt a little cliche but at least the acting was great even in situations that felt obviously artificial. Thus the movie gets a decent 3 secret skills Ben seems to have out of a possible 5.


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