Reel Reviews: De Niro shouldn’t quit his day job

The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, starts strong but fizzles into common silliness.

  • Oct. 2, 2015 8:00 a.m.

Ben (Robert De Niro) is a widowed retiree in need of something to do. Finding a senior intern program being offered by a website that sells ladies clothing, Ben applies and gets the job.

Although unfamiliar with online shopping and fashion, Ben’s amicable style and proactive attitude soon gets the attention of the boss, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).

Ostin makes Ben her personal intern at a time when turmoil in her business and personal life requires the benefit of advice from someone with the experience of age.

We say, “The Intern starts strong but fizzles into common silliness.”

TAYLOR: I enjoyed The Intern in much the same way I enjoy the more senseless drivel I choose to view on television. Not that The Intern is drivel, just that I must accept this parcel of entertainment as not being exactly suited to my sensibilities, yet providing some intellectual sustenance.

The film made me smile on several occasions and I really enjoyed the relationship between De Niro and Hathaway, but just over the halfway mark of the movie I began wondering, where’s the conflict? Where’s the monkey wrench? Then it arrived in the form of something that took me out of the story, by way of it being unexpected yet commonplace.

The movie is too generic to be anything other than comfortably bland, something for a rainy afternoon.

HOWE: It had a few laughs in it; nothing really rib tickling like A Walk in the Woods, but they were there.

I find De Niro, when it comes to comedy, a bit hit and miss. In The Intern it seems he’s a bit of a hit. Hathaway, on the other hand, played a role not different than any other she has played. She’s always the same: Big brown eyes, wondering what is going on, aloof. Having said all that, the chemistry between the two of them works well. Conversations do not feel scripted, they feel natural and for that I say well done to the pair of them.

TAYLOR:  Writer and director Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated, The Holiday) is no stranger to romantic pap or common wasp schmaltz; now it seems to be senior schmaltz. However, this latest movie is a little messier than previous outings.

The Intern attempts to make some sort of comment about the current differences between young and old, about society and about life, but I’m not sure it makes sense, nor if you’ll care. Better to just enjoy De Niro and Hathaway, then move on.

HOWE: I enjoyed The Holiday, by the way, but I will agree with you, The Intern does feel bland compared to Meyers’ other movies. Even though this film is two hours long, the ending feels rushed. It feels uncompleted, as if they have just thrown the ending on it and said “there, that will do.” A bit like this review, I feel.

TAYLOR: Nonsense, Poopypants! We shan’t be blamed for dull reporting of a nearly adequate, wholly inconsequential flick. Anyway, when was the last time you saw “Poopypants” in The Morning Star? That’s entertainment!

Howe gives The Intern 2.5 birthday parties out of 5.

– Taylor gives it 2.5 very generous points out of 5.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe review the latest films for The Morning Star every Friday and Sunday.