‘Intern’ not a great fit

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Anne Hathaway Loses It in the Presence of Mariah Carey at The Intern Premiere: Watch.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers’ latest dramedy The Intern (** out of four; rated PG-13; opens Friday nationwide) posits a left-field concept — a senior citizen being hired as an intern for an e-commerce fashion company — and spirals out of control from there, only keeping somewhat on the tracks thanks to the A-list acting talent involved.Nancy Meyers is known for her obsession with kitchens — sun-drenched, timelessly chic architectural marvels that provide a safe haven for all the director’s characters. “The Intern” puts a new spin on this trope: Robert De Niro is the kitchen. It marginalizes what she does, and how she has, from “The Parent Trap” to “It’s Complicated,” created her own lovely and implausible cottage industry of movies that are, for the most part, exceedingly pleasant to watch.

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. Bored after traveling the world and feeling a hole in his life that morning yoga sessions just won’t fill, 70-year-old retired widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) decides to take a flyer on working at About the Fit, a hip new startup that, for some reason never really explained, has decided to have more aging interns than Millennial ones. 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. Meyers is one of the more retro writer-directors working today. “The Intern,” her first film in six years, is a curious case, melding together those modern retro sensibilities in a way that even further distances her work from reality.

He blows in like Manly Poppins, vintage briefcase in tow, to teach young guys how to be less schlubby and more worthy of their Y chromosome, while also being assigned to assist the company’s CEO, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). 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. Anne Hathaway, as founder of the company, is an equally limited collection of traits: Her Jules is also good and true, though not so solid, because she’s young and overburdened and trying to Have It All. 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.

At the Brooklyn loft space that houses her clothing business, she sails from one meeting to another on an old-fashioned bicycle, wearing lots of white (another Meyers staple, despite her characters quaffing coffee and red wine) and a vaguely overwhelmed expression. It’s a workplace tale about a smiley, unflappable 70-year-old retiree Ben (Robert De Niro) who goes to intern for the thirtysomething CEO of an online retail startup. Her company is growing too fast, says her nondescript second-in-command (Andrew Rannells), so they may need to bring in outside help to run the business the right way.

At home, she exchanges brief hellos and goodbyes with her precocious daughter (JoJo Kushner) and chafing stay-at-home husband (Anders Holm) before diving back into work. 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.”

Her company’s “senior intern program,” initiated by Jules’ adviser (Andrew Rannells, whose charm goes largely unused here), is something of which this workaholic boss initially wants no part. The Intern is about as edgy as a pillow fight in the Macy’s bedding department, and the closest this thing gets to an actual villain are judgy stay-at-home moms. In the past year and a half, she has built an insanely successful clothing business from the ground up and is now juggling a kid, her relationship with her stay-at-home husband, and a board of directors who want to replace her with a more seasoned CEO. But though Jules resists her adviser’s suggestion that she bring on a male corporate manager, she gives an impassioned, drunken speech about how there are no “real men” anymore; considers relinquishing professional control to save her marriage; and ultimately learns to stand on her own two feet via the advice of an older man — albeit one who says things like “I hate to be the feminist here, but . . .” The best you can hope for is finding some passing enjoyment in the high jinks that ensue as Ben tries to fit in. Adam DeVine (“Pitch Perfect”), Zack Pearlman and Jason Orley are a Greek chorus of mop-topped hipsters, naturally drawn to Ben as Brooklynites are to all things vintage.

Nat Wolff (“Paper Towns”), whose role must have been bigger originally, appears for a nanosecond to interview Ben — and the moment when he realizes one ought not ask a 70-year-old applicant, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” is amusing. He is the grandpa from “Up” without the edge, here to tell millennial men to stop dressing like little boys, to carry handkerchiefs because ladies cry, to stay at work until the boss leaves, and to talk to, not text, romantic prospects. And the iconic actor also does well opposite all the young dudes in the office (from Adam DeVine’s office suavemeister to Zack Pearlman as Ben’s clingy colleague) as Ben drops knowledge regularly about the importance of handkerchiefs and a good suit.

What will make longtime De Niro fans cringe is him spending an endless 30 seconds excessively blinking his eyes or Ben’s silent vocabulary of expressions he uses to communicate with Jules, including a “You go, girl!” look and a “You so crazy!” smirk. Jules says she doesn’t really like old people, and at one point worries that Ben knows too much about her, but those all dissolve without much ceremony. It can be cloying at times, but the disconnected timelessness of it all is all the more reason for Meyers to keep doing her own thing as long as she can.

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