The Intern

Warner Bros.                121 minutes              PG-13

We actually know someone who successfully became an intern when they retired from broadcasting, so this plot is not out of the realm. That said, Robert De Niro playing The Intern is unusual, entertaining, amusing and touching, It covers a lot of bases, mostly about love, ambition and friendship.

Writer/Director Nancy Meyers is known for fun films such as It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give, and What Women Want. She thought the story of an old guy from an extinct business world having to navigate in a tech-based fashion start up would place him in interesting space. Plus, the company is being run by Type A/super Mom/ fashion entrepreneur, Jules, played by Anne Hathaway. Her role here is almost the exact opposite of the one she played The Devil Wears Prada with Meryl Streep.

Tina Fey and Reese Witherspoon were reportedly considered for the part first. Meyers says Hathaway is enormously talented, has an infectious, adorable personality and a great laugh. She says she gave the Academy Award winner a lot of dialogue that was handled with ease. Hathaway shows the passion for her business and emotion for her family to make her role work. The relationship between her and De Niro grows slowly and pretty realistically. Apprehensive, she finds out that instead of slowing her down, this Senior Citizen Senior Intern turns out to be what saves her.

Jules is trying to be perfect at everything and expects everyone, including her frantic and overworked assistant, Becky, (played by Christina Scherer) to be the same. Ben listens without judging, and what others might find “off-putting” he seems to appreciate, respect and value. Hathaway praises working with Bob saying it was even better than she could have imagined. He’s actually very shy, but very direct when talking about his character. And she was impressed with his ability to slip seamlessly in and out of it.

As Ben Whittaker, De Niro is put in a world surrounded by male Millennials who don’t know what to make of him. As former VP of the Yellow Pages printing operation, he wears a suit, shaves every day and carries a briefcase filled with the tools of old which include a leather briefcase, calculator, alarm clock, notebook and pens.

Meyers is extremely detail-oriented, down to the pillows on the set. She says there were more wardrobe fittings for De Niro’s suits than she had for any other costume for an actor in any movie. They even tested different kinds of shirts!

Meyers says she got a big kick out of seeing the cast of office workers played by Adam Devine, Jason Ortley, Zack Pearlman, and Nat Wolff interact with De Niro. “The intern boys were all over him.” They couldn’t believe how easy he made it look!

What impressed the director most was that he is one the best listeners she’s ever seen in an actor. She calls him “brilliant” and the most relaxed actor she’s ever worked with. The young Millennials agree.

We think an episode where De Niro and the boys stage a break-in turns out to be unnecessary and silly. But Meyers says at the end of every take of this scene  where they’re all running, the boys were just dripping with sweat. De Niro would calmly walk back to start the scene over again. Meyers laughs remembering one of the boys asking him, “Why don’t you sweat?” and he replied, “Years of practice. I’ll teach you.” She says they just grilled him to find out all they could and he was adorable with them.  

Rene Russo is a hoot in this film. She’s always good, but as company masseuse, Fiona, she adds comedy and a spark to Ben’s life. She looks amazing and says she had so much fun. Considering the part she said, “I thought, I get to massage Bob. How bad can that be?” Russo liked that he gives you a lot to play off of in a scene. It was like having a match with a great tennis player.

Is this worth your bucks? This film is a little too long and slow in places about half way through, but stick with it. This is a charming film with characters you can relate to and like, no matter your generation. Plus there are some very touching moments. Hathaway says Director Meyers has amazing fashion style herself and is probably the funniest person she’s ever met. She is known for good comedic timing. But we also heard people crying during some very poignant dialogue about love and relationships.

Both emotions are possible when old school and high tech meet. Meyers wants to provide fun, entertainment and leave the audience with something to talk about. And De Niro is no intern when it comes to getting laughs.