“I hate girls who cry at work,” a character weeps in the two-hour-long comedy “The Intern.”
So do I. You’d have to go back to an era when female office workers called each other “girls” to find that appropriate.
But writer-director Nancy “Something’s Gotta Give” Meyers is a woman and one old enough to be nostalgic for those days. Thus, her retro– and every bit of two hours long — romantic comedy, “The Intern.”
It’s about a 70 year-old retired and widowed veteran of the phone book (advertising) trade who takes part in a “senior” internship program at a fast-paced online clothing start-up called “About the Fit.”
Jules (Anne Hathaway) runs it. And weeps. Good thing Ben (DeNiro) is in the office to lend her something.
“The best reason to carry a handkerchief is to lend it!”
Ben is Old School Cool, to Jules. Not at first, of course. This non-rom-con doesn’t promise our stars a moment in the clinches at the finale. But our “couple” “meet cute,” and have lots of obstacles on the way to understanding. Such as, Jules cannot stand this “too observant” and too worldwise senior working as her assistant.
Because she’s under a lot of stress. Her investors want to appoint a more adult CEO over her, in essence demoting her at this too-too successful start-up that was her brainchild.
When Meyers has Jules weep at the idea, you get the point that maybe the (unseen) board of directors has a point. She’s 30something, a raving success, and still crying on the job.
Anders Holm plays the stay-at-home husband she’s neglecting, a modern twist on a hoary movie plot device.
Zack Pearlman, Adam Devine and Jason Orley are
nerd stereotypes guys who need lessons from a grownup about how to be men. Ben is the man for that job, be it work ethos (“Can’t leave before the boss leaves.”) or dating lessons, how to read a lease or how to dress.
“Why doesn’t anyone tuck anything IN any more?”
Ben, who calls Jules “Boss,” who dresses immaculately and offers discrete advice when asked and has a few second act secrets to reveal to make him more interesting, isn’t much of a challenge for DeNiro. He’s meant to embody history, experience, confidence and competence, and he does.
“I feel like everybody’s uncle around here.”
Hathaway has played this sort of pale young fish out of water before.
But there’s no edge to any character in the movie. The prospective CEOs that Jules auditions offend her in this way or that. But Meyers doesn’t show them.
Meyers can be praised for striking a generational blow for gentility, kindness and dressing to impress. And Hathaway and DeNiro make this tries-too-hard tripe sing. Or at least hum along.
But even a deft and hilarious non-rom-con starts to annoy when it closes in on the two hour mark.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some suggestive content and brief strong language
Cast: Robert DeNiro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm.
Credits: Written and directed by Nancy Meyers. A Warner Brothers release.
Running time: 2:01