Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) is a 70 year old widower and retired company executive. After traveling the world and exhausting his creativity in combating the boredom of retired life, Ben applies for and is accepted as an intern for a new on-line clothing company. His new life is about to begin under the auspices of the company’s founder, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).
“The Intern” starts off with a humorous bang as Whittaker completes a video application for his new position. The gulf that exists between the older generation and the young techie kids is vast and “The Intern” takes that concept and runs with it for a touchdown. Unfortunately, the film fumbles when it attempts to tackle the side stories of infidelity, business stress, and family. In fact, the game is over after the first 30 minutes.
“The Intern” is the reverse of one of Hathaway’s first films, “The Devil Wears Prada,” in that she is now the boss in the fashion industry and she has the intern who she doesn’t initially appreciate. The similarities stop there. It then becomes more of “The Internship” as it shows validity in more of “the old school” way of doing things. The film is really just a tired topic that lulls you into a state of sleepiness, waiting for it to end.
Hearing Whittaker pronounce “Vimeo” as ViMayo and summarizing his coping mechanisms after his wife passed away is sweet and endearing. The interactions between Whittaker and his new co-workers (Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, and Jason Orley) continues this humorous look at age and perception differences. As Whittaker takes over driving Ostin to her appointments, the humor and entertainment value takes a sharp left turn onto Boredom St. The film becomes a melancholy drama complete with sappy sayings, fake tears, and hugs galore. Throw in a cute kid and the checklist of sappiness is complete. Why didn’t they didn’t toss in a puppy as well?
De Niro’s performance is mediocre as the aging business man striving for a continuation of meaning and fulfillment in life. There are so many cutaway shots of the classic De Niro expression that an impressionist could use this film to study him. Hathaway looks adorable in all her trendy outfits, but as the business leader whose life is falling apart, she just isn’t believable. It’s a forced performance by both stars as they appear rather uncomfortable. There’s simply no feeling of father-daughter connection developing between the two of them as it is obviously written in the script.
If you are expecting a comedy, you are going to be disappointed. The humor screeches to a halt and it drags on and on as a superficial drama. While it captures the neighborhoods of NYC beautifully and I’d love to purchase some of the clothing this pseudo-company produces, the beauty in the film stops there as well. “The Intern” couldn’t decide what the story truly is about and it just becomes a dull mess with no direction and focal point.
1 1/2 stars