‘The Intern’ is a Nancy Meyers comedy, for better or worse

25 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Andrew Rannells sleek suiting on TODAY: Get the look!.

But her studied production design and dreamy interiors have become such a focal point, that they’ve almost eclipsed her storytelling. Rannells, who is now starring in the new film “The Intern” alongside Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway, looked quite dapper in his dark gray fitted suit, crisp white shirt and burnt orange silk tie.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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

With only the most polite issues peppering the plot, it’s less a study of generational conflict and more of a series of loosely connected events about a guardian angel sent out of retirement to tell Anne Hathaway that she really can have it all. 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.

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. 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). 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. 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.

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. 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. 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. 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.

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.

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. 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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