They say ‘Clothes maketh the man’, or at least they did in Kingsmen. This is just as true in The Intern as in any instance. The latest film from writer and director Nancy Meyers centres around seventy year old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a retired executive living alone in Brooklyn. Whittaker lost his wife three years prior and has since taken up every activity from yoga to tai chi to golf (and EVERYTHING in between). Whilst the premise of the movie is simple enough, it’s a refreshing take. Proceed with caution if you haven’t seen the trailer.
In amongst Ben’s many activities to keep himself busy (as retirement is not all it’s cracked up to be for him), he finds an advertisement for Senior Interns. Of course to apply it involves setting up a video profile. This is where we meet Ben and see his life. As is customary with the millennial generation, the interview process is extensive. Ben meets lots of kids asking questions about where he sees himself in ten years’ time. It was at this point that the audience is hooked. Ben is the underdog, you can tell that these young people are very likely going to be patronising and condescending at some point. But this movie, as previously mentioned, is a refreshing take. While the younger interns and employees predictably make gaffs, it’s not clichéd and obvious. In fact, Ben becomes the most popular intern and person on the team, helping not only his fellow interns, but the company as a whole.
Ben is assigned as the personal intern to Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Jules is the founder of About the Fit, an online fashion store that she began on her kitchen table. You can tell the instant you meet Ostin that she is wholly invested in her company. Her first scene, she is on the phones with customer service taking calls. There are not that many founders that would become part of every element of the business, but Ben sees this as one of his boss’ more admirable qualities.
As with many comedies centred on working life, Jules does not initially take to Ben. She tells him that she doesn’t need an intern and that she has merely taken one on in order to be an example to the rest of the team. Ben spends days checking and rechecking his email to see if Jules needs him to do anything but to no avail. Meanwhile, he has made himself both useful and indispensable, aiding his co-workers with their social lives, work lives and in the case of one of the ‘regular aged’ interns, home life.
Suffice to say, the boss sees all of this and eventually takes notice. She warms to Ben and his happy go lucky, can do attitude. He substitutes for her regular driver and that appears to be that. Ostin, meanwhile, is contending with the very real choice of deciding on a CEO for her company. Having been informed that she must take a step back in order to ensure the future of About the Fit, Jules must decide on someone who will quite literally, fit. Couple this with erratic working hours and home life, Jules is scattered to say the least. We meet her husband, Matt (played by Anders Holm) and her daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner). Her husband stepped down from his successful marketing career once About the Fit took off in order to care full time for their daughter.
Assume ensuing hijinks and you will get a good idea of what The Intern is about. It’s modern and smart and witty to say the least. It never goes for the obvious, always making you think but it is truly hilarious. The standout performances from De Niro and Hathaway really make this film great as well as its supporting cast (especially the Interns themselves).
The film is based in New York and more specifically in Brooklyn, so we see amazing cityscapes and urban places. Ben often remarks that while he has lived in Brooklyn his whole life, he may now not be cool enough! The scenic streets with gorgeous brownstones really set the tone of the film, with the combination of the office space (which we later learn has unique significance for Ben) and its sharp modern edges we see the union of old and new. Ben’s younger co-workers learn so much from him, just as he learns from them. With a great soundtrack by Theodore Shapiro, the film yet again blends old with new, tying its overarching theme in a neat little bow.
This film was refreshing to say the least, not at all clichéd and two hours well spent for those of any age. I give The Intern five stars, it will make you laugh, giggle, cry and squeal and is worth every minute.
By Sophie Kempe