Reviews commend Hathaway and De Niro’s platonic friendship in ‘The Intern’

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘The Intern': The film is pleasant but has no big conflict.

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.Nat Wolff’s newest movie, The Intern, finds the young star acting alongside the likes of Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, and Wolff’s hero, Robert De Niro. 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.

For EW’s Greatest Story Ever Told video series, the actor explains how De Niro brought him out of his shell with a little prank involving bubblegum and minor on-set vandalism. (De Niro is such a prankster.) To see the full narrative — including Wolff’s De Niro impression — check out the video above. 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. 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. 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 30-something CEO of an online retail startup.

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. 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.

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. Meyers seems to be channelling some of her own frustrations when Jules storms out of a meeting with a potential CEO: “He called us a ‘chick site,’ and I couldn’t hear anything after that,” she rants. 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 realises 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. 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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