“The Intern” offers sugary-sweet smiles but crashes in the third act
Writer/director: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro, Rene Russo
Release Date: September 25, 2015
Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what About the Fit is made of. Well, that is not exactly true, but the tone of the Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro comedy, “The Intern”, certainly feels that way. What is About the Fit, you ask? It is Jules’s (Hathaway) internet clothing business which has exploded from just a laptop on her kitchen table to a bustling 220-employee company located in a picturesque, remodeled warehouse in Brooklyn.
About the Fit is company where 20-somethings smile, laugh, type, and swipe on their PCs, tablets and phones while helping market the perfect outfits to an ever-growing, national customer base. Jules dresses for success, is always working and bikes (yes, bikes) in between a constant flow of five-minute meetings within the office. With sunshine beaming through the massive windows into a space of mortar, brick and bright white walls – which contain a flow of happy job-lovers - I certainly wanted to connect my LinkedIn account with everyone in that office! Okay, I am being a bit sarcastic, but after about 15 minutes of this rainbows and lollipops atmosphere, I stopped rolling my eyes and bought into the fun. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers (“Something’s Gotta Give”, “It’s Complicated”), she found the right level of movie magic to turn smiles on even the grumpiest of cynics. Just about everything in this film is cute and sweet from Jules’s six-year-old daughter to video-game driven millennial men who ask dumb questions about love.
With “love” spread in every direction, the film’s tension comes in the form of 70-year-old Ben (De Niro). About the Fit “accidentally” creates a senior intern program but not seniors in high school or college. They hire three seniors in life, as three senior citizens become six-week interns. They might not have LinkedIn or Facebook accounts, but they own real-life experience, and Ben was a seasoned and disciplined executive. While retired, he kept looking for a reason to put on his dress shirt, tie and suit to continue to make a difference in this world. He may be a former exec, but not the cutthroat type. Ben is a nice guy, and he wants to put his best seven-decade foot forward.
Meyers, of course, includes plenty of age-gap gags between Ben and his new co-workers, but the differences melt away as this senior and the “kids” bridge their differences and learn from one another. In fact, Ben and his three new sweatshirt-wearing compadres pull a hilarious heist in a major comedic high-point of the movie. Jules and Ben’s friendship and working relationship has the potential to grow too, but hey, we tend to expect that with a predictable, but entertaining story arc.
Speaking of story arcs, for me, the film falls down a quite a bit in the third act. After buying into the movie’s light tone and enjoying the ride, the script takes a completely unnecessary left turn and introduces a sudden and unpleasant plot point. I shook my head in massive disapproval when this unattractive nugget of conflict presented itself on the big screen. I did not object because it was a “too difficult to swallow” moment, but because it shook the entire upbeat tone of the picture into unwanted areas of forced struggle. The film also ties up some other loose ends within the last 10 minutes, and with a running time of 2 hours and 1 minute, one wonders why the “cut and throw away” button was so amiss in the editing room.
Still, “The Intern” is mostly a pleasant time at the movies, and Hathaway and De Niro have their charm dials set to 11. I enjoyed this film but also left disappointed. In this particular case, the script should have allowed sugar and spice to sweeten the picture from the opening credits to its fade to black. (2.5/4 stars)