Anne Hathaway Loses It in the Presence of Mariah Carey at The Intern Premiere …

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Intern’ gets the job done.

Stars, they’re just like Us! This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management.

It’s been almost 40 years since Robert De Niro played Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver,” and here he is again, in “The Intern,” contemplating his reflection in a mirror.Movie review of “The Intern”: Everything unfolds pleasantly in this film about a 70-year-old widower (Robert De Niro) who gets an internship at a startup fashion website. She may be a huge Hollywood starlet in her own right, but on Tuesday, Sept. 22, became a giddy fan girl at the NYC premiere of her own film, The Intern, when none other than walked the red carpet right behind her.

Delicious food and drink abound, everyone owns an Apple gadget and lives in a designer abode, and epiphanies occur every 10 minutes or so, accompanied by a triumphal soundtrack swell. In hilarious footage captured by The Associated Press, the Oscar-winning actress, 32, is in the middle of an interview when she suddenly notices that the “We Belong Together” singer is directly behind her. “I’m freaking out. Like, she’s two arms’ lengths away right now,” she tells the reporter as she grins goofily at the camera, trying her best not to make it obvious that she’s geeking out over Carey. “It’s just the best glamorous ever,” she says at another point, unable to articulate her emotions. “That’s not even a sentence, ’it’s just the best glamorous ever.’ I went to college. So when he learns that Jules’ company is open to hiring interns of a certain age, he’s happy to apply for a job — and even happier when he lands one.

I didn’t graduate!” Hathaway (who attended but did not graduate Vassar College) then gets flustered when the reporter suggests she go up and introduce herself to the music legend. This clumsy comedy, written and directed by Nancy Meyers, turns an implausible but intriguing premise into a tale of generational collision that reflects dimly on old and young alike. Instead of hilariously exploring domestic tangles, in the style of She’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated, Meyers moves into the workplace, although home is still just a pleasant Subaru drive away. 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.

A cross between Mary Poppins and The Devil Wears Prada, the film is another crowd-pleaser — albeit one with the knotty subtext that women seeking harmony at home and office need a father figure to light the path. At the 2013 Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence memorably freaked out when Jack Nicholson interrupted her interview post-Best Actress win for Silver Linings Playbook to tell her she “did such a beautiful job.” 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. Undaunted, Ben quickly becomes an indispensable member of the staff — and, with his suit-and-tie style, a sharp contrast to his young, casually dressed and more than slightly goofy colleagues. In a straight-to-the-camera preface, Ben talks easily, almost glibly, of being lonely since his wife died, of needing to fill a hole in his life, and soon.

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). He volunteers as an elder intern at the booming Brooklyn e-commerce clothing firm created by Hathaway’s Jules, a thirty-something workaholic who uses a bicycle to speed between the desks of her dutiful drones. An astute observer of human nature, Ben also becomes the friend that Jules — whose position at the company is under question and whose personal life is an escalating mess — doesn’t even realize she needs.

Yet his life seems quite pleasant and settled, and flagrantly prosperous; the kitchen of his New York townhouse could pass for a showpiece in suburban Fairfield County. It’s particularly disconcerting to be asked the standard interview question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Also not thrilled with this arrangement is his new boss, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway as a younger, less-evil version of the fashion mogul played by co-star Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”).

Not at first, anyway. “The Intern” is the latest comedy from writer-director Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give,” “It’s Complicated”). For most of their working lives, their career end-game strategy consisted almost entirely of figuring out whether they wanted to retire at the usual age of 65 or whether they might like to keep at it into their late 60s and into their 70s. In a straight-to-the-camcorder job application he’s intelligent, smooth and articulate; no doubt about this foxy grandpa making it the second time around in his new workplace, a trendy open office in an old loft in gentrifying Brooklyn where controlled chaos reigns and Jules rides her bicycle from one area to the next. (Never mind that open offices are becoming less trendy, or that Jules appears to be balancing her bike by dint of sheer determination.) In fact, Ben’s calming influence is welcome, and not only because of the movie’s earnest lesson that senior citizens like him still have much to give. Frazzled Jules doesn’t want him around — she finds him “too observant.” But when her regular chauffeur turns unreliable, Ben slides behind the wheel and begins touring her around NYC, and also her life.

Few could have predicted that they would find themselves at age 50 or 55 – at the peak of their productivity and effectiveness – set adrift in a professional world that either doesn’t want them, has changed drastically or doesn’t exist any more. As Jules gradually leans on Ben, her lofty ambition and his grounded experience prove complementary, especially when a moral predicament threatens their enterprise.

While not to be confused with “The Internship,” that crass Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson Google infomercial from 2013, “The Intern” similarly relies on the talents of its two leads. (Unlike the previous film, that’s a blessing.) After a string of hit-or-miss efforts, De Niro lands his most likable role in decades, easily earning audience support by playing the right guy in the wrong era: a briefcase-toting gentleman who’s almost invisible to the big-beard, bigger-glasses crowd. Hathaway, who can be brilliant when she has first-rate material—as in “Rachel Getting Married”—or shrill when she’s stuck with the sort of caricature she’s playing here. Yet it’s cappuccino cup-eyed Hathaway — with her knack for taking superficial characters (Catwoman!) and transforming them into real people — who does most of the heavy lifting. And Jules’s frenzy is matched by a succession of plot developments that leave you begging for less: a silly heist; an awkward attempt to give Ben a sex life (with a libidinous masseuse played brightly by Rene Russo); a hotel’s sprinkler system gone wonky and, worst of all, a feel-good ending that may, in the most charitable interpretation, have been imposed by the studio rather than concocted by the filmmaker.

I won’t tell you what happens, only that someone—a female someone—makes a wise and important decision, and that a male someone we care nothing about suddenly pops up out of nowhere to validate her judgement, and to assure us that everything will be fine. The closest these two get to a bed is sitting on one while watching Gene Kelly croon “You Were Meant For Me” to Debbie Reynolds in a Netflix screening of Singin’ in the Rain.

I am sworn to secrecy, but I note in passing that Jules’ e-commerce firm has a delightful in-house masseuse, played by Rene Russo, the world’s sexiest sexagenarian. In Tony Scott’s terrific thriller, a runaway freight train hurtles through Pennsylvania with a load of lethal chemicals and no one in the locomotive. On the same track, heading toward it, is another freight train pulled by a locomotive with Denzel Washington’s veteran engineer at the controls and Chris Pine as his rookie conductor.

She netted an Oscar nomination for her debut screenplay, “Private Benjamin,” and parlayed that into a lengthy Hollywood gig crafting female-centric pictures. This type of frothy comedy typically wraps up loudly, with a comeuppance, wacky misunderstanding and/or a car chase that leads to a confrontation at the altar. “The Intern” succumbs to none of these histrionics, opting instead for sweet, graceful subtlety.

Building on first-hand experience, he re-directed his skills into teaching and became an instructor at a local college where his course material is being used to update a creaky, decades-old curriculum. By focusing on four questions, she was able to identify five new roles that met her needs, used her talents, was work she cared about and made an impact that was market viable.

It is a smart, funny depiction about the power of inter-generational relationships in today’s workplace and the untapped innovation of the boomer generation. These inter-generational events will challenge attendees to consider if Hollywood has gotten ahead of their own company when it comes to inter-generational work force strategy. Lisa Taylor is President of Challenge Factory, a company that is launching Canada’s first certificate program in Inter-generational Leadership, using theory, data, case studies and methodologies associated with this approach to workplace culture and employee engagement.

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