I am currently an intern which means I pay my school in order to work for a company without actually getting paid. It actually is a lot of fun, and I don’t have any complaints—I get to sit at a desk and write about various movie festivals and screenings for a couple hours a day while also getting to go to movie screenings. It isn’t a bad gig at all since it’s basically what I want to do in life. The Intern, the new film from Nancy Meyers (Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated,) deals with a very different kind of intern who goes through what anybody who does an internship goes through, adds a genuinely solid amount of humor and humanity, and gives us a film that is as smart as it is heartwarming.
The previews and even the movie itself set up the story to go in one way and for you to assume things are going to happen in a certain way, but it never quite ends up how you expect. It has Meyers’ signature character writing, introducing us to thought-out, believable characters, as well as a beautifully written friendship that is developed between Ben (Robert De Niro), a widower who has grown bored of retirement and signs up for an internship at an up-and-coming fashion site, and Jules (Anne Hathaway), the woman who runs it.
De Niro gives one of the most endearing performances of his career. After a life of hard-work and a happy marriage, he has become too bored with retirement because it doesn’t give him purpose. DeNiro isn’t quite heart-breaking or pitiful, but he carries a certain emotional levity that allows him to crack jokes about his age while also understanding that he is, in fact, a 70-year-old intern. We see sides of DeNiro that we seldom have seen before—a charming, emotional man who misses the past but still looks towards the future even in his twilight years.
As we watch his relationship grow with Hathaway, we realize that the two share a sweet and poignant chemistry. Hathaway is a driven busy-body who built an entire company from the ground up in less than two years. She is wracked by guilt for not having any time for her mom, nor her husband and daughter as she can never give one thing her undivided attention. It seems rude and uncaring, but she really does care, she just can’t focus on more than one thing at a time. It’s a surprise she can talk and ride her bike at the same time. Hathaway is superb as always, throwing herself into a role that demands both humor and emotion as she tries to find a potential CEO to take charge of her company so she can have more time for herself. The real story, though, is the beautiful friendship that blossoms between her and Ben, and it’s impossible to not get caught up in it, too.
Thanks to Meyers’ splendid writing we also get some time with a strongly written supporting cast featuring Adam DeVine, Anders Holm, Rene Russo, Christina Scherer, Zack Pearlman, and Jason Orley. While some get more time than others, they are all richly written characters who have been fully thought out rather than tacked on means of progressing the plot.
While the movie flows at a solid pace, there are a couple of moments and characters that are overly absurd and unnecessary that can potentially take you out of things for a moment. A weird “heist” moment partway through makes it seem like getting to one development couldn’t have been planned out in a more realistic and less nonsensical way.
You hear the phrase “feel good—whatever—of the year” thrown around a lot when it might not qualify. The Intern whole-heartedly deserves this title as Meyers crafts two charming and memorable characters portrayed marvelously by Hathaway and De Niro, builds a friendship between them, and delivers an uplifting movie that could hardly make you feel the least bit sad. The Intern, like Ben himself, is a wonderful surprise that works to make you happy and pleased without even trying—it’s just that delightful.