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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Movie Review - the Intern

Robert DeNiro plays against-type in this wonderful comedy about a senior citizen intern succeeding in the world of e-commerce. With a full career of business under his belt and plenty of energy to boot, DeNiro (Ben) finds himself bored with the retired life. A lonely widower's existence doesn't help matters much, nor do the untoward advances from women his age (Linda Lavin in several funny scenes).

On a whim, Ben steps out of his comfort zone and applies for an internship with "About the Fit," an up and coming, online fashion company. DeNiro is delightfully funny during the interview process, where old school charm buts up against brash, Gen X bluntness.

Surprisingly, despite his age, Ben's chivalry and polished demeanor help him land the job working for none other than the company's founder and CEO, Anne Hathaway (Jules Ostin).  Hathaway shines in this role, as she does in all of her films. She is more than believable as a young, corporate innovator who can balance stellar customer service with an increased bottom line that has kept her investors happy since the company's inception. Internet hits are up, as are sales, her employees are loyal, motivated, and hard working in a fast-paced environment, and the future only promises greater things. The only problem is that success is coming too fast, which raises a question regarding her experience in managing a burgeoning global company.

Can this smart, attractive, fire-ball of a young woman take her fledging company to the next level? Jules certainly thinks so, but her investors are doubtful. And so, against her better judgement, she agrees to conduct a search for an outside CEO to ensure the corporate ship stays afloat.

From afar, Ben watches all of this unfold, marveling at the talent and boldness of this young, whip-smart entrepreneur. At first, Jules is put off by his perceptive eye and fatherly watchfulness, but he soon reveals himself to be more than a former phone-book salesman, insistent on wearing a suit and tie to work and carrying an old, leather briefcase filled with paper, pens, and paperclips. He has the wisdom and insight of a seasoned executive and a keen, instinctive eye for where trouble may be lurking, all of which Jules desperately needs.

After several precarious circumstances, Ben proves to be more than just a loyal intern. Jules learns to trust him implicitly, eventually letting him into her home to meet her stay-at-home husband and adorable little girl and then into her heart. He becomes her chauffer, business adviser, partner, confidant, and best friend.

While Jules and Ben's relationship is be no means romantic, it is stronger and more intimate that many romances told in Hollywood tales. Nancy Meyers, the screenwriter and director, reveals her tremendous talent as a top-notch storyteller by developing a beautiful, soul tie between these two very different people from two very different generations, proving that people are still people, regardless of age, gender, or the era in which they live. As she often does in her movies, Meyers tosses in just the right amount of humor to add the levity needed to keep the story moving along at a nice pace. Be prepared for funny scenes with several younger, nerdier interns who eventually look to Ben as the man to emulate, despite the great disparity in age. Also, the beautiful Renee Russo delivers as a sensual corporate masseuse who falls for Ben's gentlemanly manner. A little too R rated for me in some scenes, but funny, nevertheless.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

The film does a great job of showing the conflict women have in balancing high-pressure, high-profile corporate positions with the pull of family obligations. While Jules' husband is supportive of her busy schedule, the strain on their relationship eventually takes a toll, and adultery enters the mix. Ben discovers the truth and struggles over how to tell Jules, but as it turns out, she has known for some time and has kept her emotions to herself. In a great scene on a hotel room bed, Jules and Ben's relationship reaches the pinnacle of intimacy when she unburdens her heart and tells Ben her sad, sordid tale. Hathaway is great in this scene, displaying her anger over her husband's infidelities as well as her love for him and her desire to "fix" the problem; she firmly believes that finding an outside CEO is just what the doctor ordered to restore what has been lost. But Ben thinks otherwise. As the loving parent, confidant, and friend, he encourages her to stick to her guns and hang on to her company, that it is her creation, and that an unfaithful husband is no reason to give up on one's dreams. He encourages her to continue to believe that she can have it all: company, career, family, and even a renewed love from a repentant spouse.

Forgiveness is a theme that carries through to the end of the film, which is unexpected in a Hollywood comedy. Jules agrees to give her marriage another chance but on the terms they had agreed upon years ago. She will still continue to work hard, put in long hours, and run the company she founded, living out the dream in her heart while husband holds down the fort at home. While life will certainly not be perfect, it is their life, and they will get through it together.

This is a great story of how an older, wiser, yet nonjudgmental friend helps someone from the next generation manage a significant bump on life's pathway. Like Jules, many of us could benefit from having that older, preferably Godly, mentor in our lives to help us see things that we may be blind to.

The Intern is truly wonderful film that surprises on so many levels. It is unique, timely, and appeals to young and old alike. Definitely one for the personal movie library!

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