The Intern (M)

Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway

Is getting older a bad thing? It’s not a rom-com and it doesn’t have Melissa McCarthy in the lead role, could The Intern be a positive change for modern cinematic comedy?

Retirement has not been completely satisfying for Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro). As a retired widower, he misses his wife and desires to be reconnected to his previous life in the working world. Those connections with people and that feeling of accomplishment and purpose that drove him to get out of bed each day. At 70 years of age, he is given a new lease on life with a ‘Seniors intern programme’ at an on-line fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).

Ben comes to realise that some things have changed in the workplace, but many things are the same. Coming into this new job, his mentor is Jules, who is not too thrilled to have him working for her. While he is trying to find his place in this fast pace, high-tech world, Ben finds his place in the company. Realising he is there to help this young entrepreneur to find her place in the unforgiving world of business.

Director Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated) is known for her romantic comedies that involve those who are moving past mid-life. This business-centred story brings together multiple generations without diminishing the value of any age group. There is no need for the development of romance between the lead characters, but their eventual on screen chemistry process to be effective for the progression of this trainee tale.

Meyer does keep a well-timed pace for the film and there are only a few moments where the story lags. Also, she delivers a comedic experience with integrity. The Intern is not reliant on excessive foul language or flatulent jokes to make the crowd laugh. Meyer manages to spin the central relationship as mentor/intern into something refreshing for a modern comedy. She capitalises on two Academy Award winning actors in the lead roles, but this becomes Robert DeNiro’s film. He delivers the business savvy and vulnerability that make this role convincing and entertaining. Not that Anne Hathaway and the surrounding cast do not provide the needed layers for this story to deliver, but it required someone in the lead with the experience to pull it through to the end and like his film’s character DeNiro gets the job done.

Meyer’s internship narrative shows that individuals with a few more years under their belt may lack in the same energy levels as their younger counterparts, but make up for it with experience and wisdom. Thankfully there was a balance to the drama with the development of the relationships and characters that may leave the audience wanting more, but fully satisfied with what they received at the conclusion.

It is not ground breaking cinema, but it is an enjoyable journey into the value that each generation can provide for one another. Internships are meant to provide new experiences and insights for people. The Intern met this brief and in the process provided a few laughs, so that we do not take this life too seriously.

In the book of Proverbs it can be read, ‘The glory of young men (and women) is their strength, grey hair the splendour of the old.’ The Intern epitomises this verse in the Bible by showing the value of various generations. Showing that throughout this life, there is a tendency to look upon certain ages as having greater value than others. While this film and the verse communicate that each chapter in this life is new and the challenge is for each of us to take advantage of each opportunity that comes along. Some chapters may prove to be better than others, but ultimately each chapter adds to the overall richness of this life and challenge us to live each chapter as it is opened.

Leaving the cinema…

I enjoyed this film more after I had time to think about it. It was entertaining and I enjoyed seeing it with my young adult daughters, who said ‘it was a great date movie that makes you think more about life.’ Good review, ladies!

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

  1. What does the Bible say about getting older? (Proverbs 16:3, 20:29)
  2. Can each generation provide something in this life? (Proverbs 9:10-11, 13: 13,15-16)
  3. What does the Bible say about aspiring to leadership? (Jeremiah 29:11, John 16:33)

Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.