Robert DeNiro gets a lot of crap for basically losing the drive and just giving up and starring in any film he can get a role in. Granted, those arguments are valid, but in films like “The Intern” there’s at least some of the fine actor we once knew and will always know even after DeNiro has passed on. DeNiro has something of a twinkle and spark in “The Intern” where he conveys a lot of the charm we know him for. I don’t know if he was really just phoning it in the entire time, but in “The Intern” he plays the role well and works off of the potential sitcom trappings director Nancy Meyer tries to peg him in to. DeNiro plays seventy something Ben Whittaker, a man who’s lived a long life with a good career, and has lost his wife years before we meet him.
He’s spent the rest of his time travelling around the world and getting in touch with his son, but is still very restless. Hoping for a new chapter in life, Ben enters a work program for a dot com company that’s specifically hiring senior citizens. When he gets the job, he begins working under Jules, an ambitious young woman on the verge of forming a media empire who finds her marriage and relationship with her daughter crumbling under the weight of her success. With Ben garnering some sympathy toward Jules’ dilemma, the two bond as Ben tries to help Jules garner some clarity, while gaining insight in to her stressful life. Surely, it’s a movie like “About Schmidt” about a senior citizen looking for a life after his marriage, but the movie is less about the meaningless of life, and more about how character Ben doesn’t have it so bad.
He had youth, he had ambition, and now that he’s experienced it twice, he can now just relax, and he’s content with that. Being without a job and a marriage does not mean one is purposeless. Meanwhile when we meet Ben working in a chic office without walls, where the workers live on their computers and cell phones, DeNiro comes off surprisingly dignified. “The Intern” doesn’t paint Ben as a man stuck in the digital age, but as a man who accepts today’s generation and tries his best to adapt. This involves hanging on to his email where he anxiously hopes to be called upon by his superior Jules. Even the relationship he develops with a trio of comedic interns ends up quite charming and entertaining, as they learn from his experience and use it as a means of bettering themselves in the professional and personal world.
“The Intern” promises again and again to become this stale sitcom, but surprisingly it’s a very unique and charming drama comedy with DeNiro carrying the weight of the film. Anne Hathaway is great as Jules, a young upstart CEO for a dot com company that is promising to destroy her personal life with her husband and her daughter. Hathaway succeeds in playing such a tragic character bound by traditional relationship roles and finds her ambition is ruining the dynamic in her marriage. Granted, “The Intern” can be a bit sickly sweet with some goofy moments injected, including a silly break in scene after Jules sends her mom a graphic email, as well as the romance between Rene Russo and DeNiro’s character that begins with a groan and literally goes nowhere.
In either case, “The Intern” is a charming and simple drama comedy with some genuine sincerity and heart to it. The Blu-Ray release comes with a DVD copy and Digital copy. Among the special features, there’s “Learning from Experience,” a five minute obligatory EPK with interviews with director Meyers, and other cast members. “Designs on Life” is a six minute visit with the set decorators, production designers, and costume designers, as well as interviews with various cast members, and director Meyers who discusses the film’s look. Finally there’s “The Three Interns” a six minute look at Zack Pearlman, Adam DeVine, and Jason Orley, all of whom have funny supporting roles as young eager co-workers. They speak about working with DeNiro and on the film.