The Intern Parent Review
Despite some feel-good moments, there is still the nagging feeling that the plot ignores the truth.
Can you have your cake and eat it too? Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) doesn’t think so. After working hard to reach retirement, he is quite disillusioned by the extra leisure time. Part of the disappointment comes because the widower now has no one to share it with. He is also struggling with not having a purpose in his life. So when he sees an advertisement for a position as a senior intern, the seventy-year-old man jumps at the chance.
Despite being green with high tech gadgets, the grey-haired gentleman charms the personnel at the on-line shopping company and lands a six-week stint as assistant to the owner Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Ben quickly realizes that she is bright, committed and takes a hands-on approach to all aspects of the business. However, she’s a lousy delegator, which means he still has nothing to do.
Summing the patience he has acquired over his lengthy career, Ben quietly observes operations looking for places where he can lend a hand to the enterprise that is growing faster than the staff can keep pace with. He steps in when an opportunity arises to help with chauffer duties, and finds himself in a position where he can watch the thirtyish woman’s personal life too. Predictably Jules’ long work hours are taking a toll on her family. And just as expected, Ben is quick to lend his insight and wisdom to both her professional and personal life.
As a movie, The Intern shines in its portrayal of the value of experience in a world where youthfulness is often given the greater preference. Ben’s dedication and grooming habits bring a sense of maturity to the workplace and class to his slovenly co-workers. It is rather refreshing to see manners and chivalry (like carrying a handkerchief that can be lent to those in need of one) receive a nod of approval and a note of appreciation in an environment that seems to have forgotten how nice those courtesies can be.
Sadly, the story is overshadowed by messages of feminism – some of which feel more old-fashioned than Ben. For instance, a monologue is included that defends mothers in the work place (a common enough circumstance that it hardly seems worthy of another spiteful speech). Girl power is evident in everything from Jules’ unbelievable dream job to her stay-at-home husband (Anders Holm). And instead of exploring ways to achieve a life/work balance, the script preaches the self-fulfilling nature of career ambitions, while diminishing the rewards of family life and the sacrifice sometimes needed to keep those ties strong.
Punctuated with some innuendo, implied sexual relations and plenty of drinking, along with a sexual expletive and finger gesture, the film delivers its foreseeable sentimental ending. Yet despite some feel-good moments, there is still the nagging feeling that the plot ignores the truth: No one (whether male or female) can have their cake and eat it too.Directed by Nancy Meyers. Starring Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release September 25, 2015. Updated May 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in The Intern here.
The Intern Parents Guide
What reasons contribute to Ben’s dissatisfaction with retirement? How does attending funerals contribute to his sadness? How common do you think his complaints are? What things do you do that provide a sense of purpose to your life? What things might help seniors feel like their existence still has meaning?
In the script the pressure to find a CEO for her company is making Jules feel like she is incompetent. What conclusions does she reach as the story progresses? Meanwhile Jules’ assistant Becky is also asked to accept extra help. How does it make her feel? Why do you think the solution to Becky’s problem and the concerns are treated so differently than those of Jules? How fair is that representation?
This film is full of product placements, where companies pay to have their products advertised within the film. How many can you spot? How do you feel about this increasingly common practice of commercializing movies?