Editor’s Note: The Intern will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 19, 2016.
The Intern (Warner Home Video), written and directed by Nancy Meyers, is the kind of movie that’s hard not to like. The characters are engaging, if not overly complex, and the story unfolds pleasantly as it combines some serious themes along with touches of humor.
Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) runs an extremely successful and rapidly growing on-line shopping website from a refurbished Brooklyn factory. Her employees are all young, tech-savvy men and women, and she drives them almost as hard as she drives herself. Jules puts in long hours and worries endlessly about the details. Her stay-at-home husband, Matt (Anders Holm), takes care of their daughter and most of the household responsibilities.
Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) is a 70-year-old retired executive who is restless and jumps at the opportunity to apply for a senior intern outreach program at Jules’ company. After a round of interviews with people young enough to be his grandchildren, his extensive business experience lands him the job. He’s assigned to be Jules’ assistant.
Initially, Jules fails to use Ben in any capacity and he sits, biding his time and befriending other employees, who find him amusingly retro yet wise and eager to learn. Eventually, when Jules does call upon him, she is impressed with his chivalrous behavior, intelligence, and common sense. Their professional relationship develops into a real friendship as Ben becomes a growing influence in her professional and private life.
First of all, let’s give credit where it’s due. Robert De Niro is absolutely great in the role of Ben. He immerses himself in the part, with not an inkling of the rough, creepy characters he has previously played on screen. All charm, he conveys what a true gentleman should be — non-judgmental, friendly to all, willing to help, industrious, resourceful, and compassionate. We like Ben from the get-go and enjoy watching him gently influence Jules and her employees. De Niro plays light comedy with just the right touch, relying mostly on expression, reaction, and observation. Ben is not an incessant talker; he listens, observes, and shows his refinement and smarts through action.
Jules, when we first meet her, is a pretty cool number. She’s perennially on the go, head in a computer, setting up five-minute meetings, bicycling around her massive company loft. She works her staff hard but isn’t great at accepting criticism or suggestions. She’s also lax in saying “Thank you” every now and then or letting her staff know she values them.
Rene Russo as Fiona, the company masseuse, looks great and provides a hint of romantic interest for Ben.
The best scenes in the movie are those between De Niro and Hathaway. We see their relationship grow. Ben never tells her what to do, but encourages her and reminds her of how remarkable her success has been. More than a cheerleader, though, Ben becomes a true friend, caring for Jules and looking out for her, making sure an inebriated chauffeur doesn’t drive her, buoying up company morale, and allowing her to confide in him when things get especially rough.
Director Meyers (It’s Complicated, The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give) is known for films that focus on women. “The Intern” portrays Jules as a modern entrepreneur who’s treading water and doesn’t realize it. Rated PG-13, the picture sheds light on the trials career women must face and overcome. Never preachy, The Intern has a light, deft touch as it underscores differences between Baby Boomer and Millennial generational outlooks and satirizes gender-based double standards in the workplace.
Bonus extras on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include the featurettes “Learning From Experience” (director Nancy Meyers and cast discuss bridging the “generation gap” in a humorous way), “Designs on Life” (focusing on the film’s interior design), and “The Three Interns” (an interview with Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman and newcomer Jason Orley).