Comedies are a tricky genre to get right. More often than not, the humor will feel forced, often with many sexual or racial references. But sometimes, Hollywood gives birth to a film that has real humor and charisma, without trying too hard. Exhibit A: The Intern.
We know the film’s writer/director Nancy Meyers for making comedy films, most notably for Private Benjamin and Something’s Gotta Give. But let’s be honest – Nancy Meyers is no Chris Rock or Adam Sandler. Her humor is much more subtle. The goal isn’t to have us laughing throughout the whole movie, but rather to tell a heart-warming story with a touch of funny.
Essentially, her characters are down-to-earth, regular people who are thrown into uncomfortable situations and have to learn to stay afloat. This model is followed to a T in her latest film, The Intern.
Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro) is a 70-year-old retired businessman who made his name by running a phone book printing company. As you can imagine, at 70, there usually isn’t much excitement in one’s life. Sure, he goes to the movies and Starbucks and even takes up a few short-lived hobbies, but his wife had passed away, the kids are all grown up and living their own lives and there really isn’t much to occupy him.
One day, he happens to see an ad for “senior interns” and decides to give it a shot. This lands him in the middle of a fashion company run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), where everybody is young, stylish and has a completely different understanding of the industry from a retired businessman.
Jules is driven, modern and ambitious, while Ben is old-fashioned, believes in principles and finds this new world puzzling. Naturally, their personalities clash and the dynamic of their unusual relationship is the main source of humor. To learn to co-exist and tolerate each other, they will both have to adapt. As it turns out, even though their relationship is quite uncommon, both can learn a great deal from each other and grow by listening and accepting the other person.
The Intern doesn’t provide us with a complicated story or great plot twists; instead, it rides on the chemistry and acting abilities of Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. That’s the real beauty of this movie. It doesn’t rely on a plot, but on a script – the true hero of the film. You’ll realise there’s no real plot at all in fact, but it doesn’t take away from the essence of the film.
In a way, Hathaway goes back to her The Devil Wears Prada days, although this time, her older partner isn’t a mean Meryl Streep and her frustration comes from a different place entirely. As for De Niro, his portrayal of Ben resembles the character he played in Everybody’s Fine – an older gentleman, one of the last of his kind, learning to deal with an ever-changing, modern world.
It’s safe to say that there isn’t anything about this film that is uncharted territory for the pair, but they do manage to still make it fresh, likeable and, most importantly, not repetitive. Although the model of their characters stays almost the same, Hathaway and De Niro both bring new elements and somehow make this film more interesting than it seems on paper. Their love affair, even if entirely platonic, still seems sincere and believable. It just goes to show that not every film needs to be Oscar-worthy and that even brilliant actors like these two can sometimes relax and play less demanding roles just as well.
As the film progresses, you will find yourself more immersed both in the story and in the main characters. Although there is nothing extraordinary about them, perhaps it is their genuineness, wit and charm that makes them so amiable. One of its biggest strengths is how good-natured it is. In a world of comedy where writers often rely on sarcasm and negativity as a fuel for jokes, it’s impressive to encounter a film that aims to rely on almost total positivity. Accompanied by some truly comedic moments, great supporting characters and well-written dialogues, The Intern makes for a great date-movie or one that you would watch at home, wrapped up in a blanket with a giant bowl of popcorn and ice cream.
The movie may not move you, but it definitely touches you. It’s a movie made with a lot of heart, and gets you all warm and fuzzy inside, and hence my verdict – feel good movie of the year!
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