Film Follies, Worth it?

Worth it?- The Intern

In this edition of Worth It? I take a look at a quiet comedy called The Intern starring Robert De Niro and Ann Hathaway. The story follows 70-year-old widower De Niro as he goes to work as a “senior” intern for Hathaway’s incredibly successful internet startup which is beginning to feel growing pains. The through-line of the story revolves around whether or not Hathaway should bring in an outside CEO to help her run her company.
Robert De Niro has hit that point in his career where he can take on all those quirky old man roles that don’t really require him to do a lot of work but give him a nice repertoire of feel-good movies to go along with all those Oscar-caliber performances from earlier in his career. Basically, he’s got nothing left to prove and it seems like he’s just taking on scripts he thinks he’ll have fun working on. Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith are both at that same point in their careers and it seems like Dustin Hoffman got there a few years ago. Personally, I enjoy this trend as it lets me see some of my favorite actors in some lighter fare.
De Niro is great but to be honest he’s not asked to do a lot here in terms of range. The real stand out of the film is Hathaway. She manages to avoid the cliché of the frantic overworked career woman answering the “can she have it all” question. Because on paper that’s what this part is, but Hathaway is so smart, warm, and most importantly confident at both work and at home that her moments of vulnerability really resonate.
The thing is for as much as I enjoyed bits and parts of this film and found the premise to be refreshingly original (at least by Hollywood standards) there was still a large portion of it that I found patronizing and clichéd. At one point Hathaway’s character goes on a tequila-fueled rant about how men have become boys and holds up De Niro as an example of what society had lost a time when men were men and everyone wore hand-tailored suits to the office. You know those good old days that Mad Men worked so hard at deconstructing. Where women stayed in the kitchen and men kept mistresses. It’s the have your cake and eat it too feminism that perpetuates a stereotype of modern men I find annoying. The script takes some likable characters, uses them to make a point about wearing your big boy pants, and tosses them aside with their purpose served. The worst part is that this lecture at their expense comes on the heels of these characters risking quite a bit to help the Hathaway character out of a jam. Its lazy writing and even lazier stereotyping and it, plus one other item that occurs later in the film, really served to take me out of a feel-good, female empowerment movie I was otherwise enjoying.
But hey maybe that’s just me and I’m projecting. You can be the judge because despite that rant I really did enjoy this film quite a bit. After all, with two outstanding talents like De Niro and Hathaway how could this film not be Worth It.

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