THE INTERN (PG-13)
DeNIRO CHARMS HIS WAY THROUGH FASHION
Every so often a gem of a film hits the airwaves that entertains, tickles your funny bone, and gives you a fresh look at life as you know it. So it was with big screen comedy "The Intern." Two Oscar winners, Robert DeNiro, and Anne Hathaway blend in this bright and enjoyable take on the traditional intern experience.
DeNiro plays 70-year-old retired widower Ben Whittaker, who's discovered that life as a retiree is not all it's cracked up to be. When the opportunity to intern as part of a newly launched senior internship program opens up, he seizes it with gusto. Anne Hathway (Les Miserables), plays the founder and CEO Jules Ostin of "About the Fit," a highly successful start-up online clothing company that has taken the shopping world by storm.
Ben finds himself surrounded by tech-savvy, 30-something hipsters in a world completely alien to his previous business background. Worst of all, he has been directly thrust upon the high-strung multi-tasking CEO herself, and she's less than happy about it. Ben has a full plate assimilating into the fast-paced environment, and the fact that it's based on women's clothing doesn't help smooth the way. But Ben has 40 years business experience under his belt and an observant eye. It's not long before he proves surprisingly useful to Jules, not because he's seeking approval, but because he 'picks up the slack' that others fail to see. He was instantly likable as the older gentleman in a culture that has forgotten the finer things like chivalry, manners and thoughtfulness. DeNiro infuses his environment with a steadiness that was partially grandfather and part sage with a little George Burns around the edges.
I grew up watching DeNiro forge out a career playing criminal bottom-feeders. Today, his career is mostly based on comedic characters, of which, Ben Whittaker is perhaps the most lovable to date. It's been said that playing comedy is far more difficult for an actor than drama because there's more to it than saying something funny. Good comedy involves the ability to say serious lines in absurd situations with precision timing. DeNiro comes to the plate with this story proving again his comedy skills that always feel a little like surface-scratching a bottomless talent.
The 32-year-old Hathaway has carved out a respectable, award-winning career that is a long way from her "Princess Diaries" days. She has evolved into that much enviable Hollywood "sweet spot" of actors who have made their money, proved their talent and can handpick their roles. If you liked Hathaway in "The Devil Wears Prada," then you will certainly enjoy her in this frothy little role. She plays the oh-so-lucky entrepreneur with a "what if" idea that rockets her company to phenomenal success in 18 short months. Partnered with this unexpected success are the headaches of being a CEO and the challenges of figuring out how to maintain that momentum. Moreover, Jules feels she has better things to do than mentor a senior citizen following her around like a bird waiting for crumbs. Hathaway does get a few emotional moments as her character wades through professional and personal difficulties.
You can only guess that the jokes are aplenty when the septuagenarian finds himself among the much younger co-workers. Equally funny in the film were the young professionals hilariously played by Zack Perlman, Nat Wolff, Adam Devine, and Andrew Rannells, who play off Ben's character and traditional values with a joke a minute. Zack Perlman plays the charming curly-haired Davis (Dreamworks Dragons), who develops the closest relationship to Ben and pulls off some of the films funniest moments by 'dorking' his way through every scene with nitwit expertise. Leading cast members are rounded out by screen veteran Rene Russo (Thor 2011), and Anders Holm (The Interview).
From the director's of "Somethings Got to Give" and "It's Complicated," DeNiro set the humorous tone from the start line with a spot-on humor liberally sprinkled throughout. The humor also serves as a commentary on the disparity between generations in values and methodologies. I liked the film for its light-hearted approach to the subject. It is a smart, nicely paced, slightly emotional and sometimes sweet comedy, that is sure to tickle your funny bone and leave you with some warm fuzzies.
- DeNiro's nickname is "Bobby-D".
- His breakthrough role was "Mean Streets" (1973).
- He won Best Supporting Actor for "Godfather Part II" (1974).
- He has said that Meryl Streep was his favorite actor to work with.
- "Entertainment Weekly" voted him the 34th best actor of all time.