Last night, I watched a Netflix DVD that had been sitting in our house for about 3 weeks. Yes, we still get DVDs from Netflix. Long story. In The Intern, Robert De Niro (Ben) is a retired widower. His only son and grandchild live on the other side of the country. In short, he is bored, so he answers an ad for a senior intern at a startup Internet clothing company, run by Anne Hathaway (Jules). Jules has grown the company from 20 employees to over 200 in 18 months. She works too hard, has trouble delegating, and is being pressured to hire an outside CEO to manage the company.
The Intern is formulaic, but I honestly don't have a problem with that. You have formulas for a reason, and The Intern departs from the formula enough to make things interesting. My expectation was that Ben would be a business wiz and help Jules to manage better, but the focus is more that Ben brings his life experience and helps those around him deal with their lives better.
When Ben starts, he is assigned to work directly under Jules, and she flat out tells him that she would have very little for him to do and he might be better off with someone else. Ben says he would like to stick it out with her. Ben is in no way tech savvy, but learns quickly. I appreciate that they didn't go for the old guy doesn't know how to use a computer jokes. Out of a desire to make himself useful, Ben uses the time to learn the business and pick up the technology. Ben also mentors his 20-something intern colleagues but more on life skills than business.
Ben eventually endears himself to Jules by cleaning up the desk that has become the equivalent of the office's junk drawer, one of Jules pet peeves. When Ben notices her driver drinking on the job, he confronts him and ends up becoming Jules' driver. As such, he meets her stay-at home husband and daughter. He gains her trust by helping her manage her personal life and that expands to the business.
De Niro has great rapport with the entire cast. With Jules daughter, he becomes a surrogate grandfather. With the other interns, he helps them learn a little something about what it means to be a gentleman. In a way, Rene Russo is somewhat wasted in a small role as the company masseuse and De Niro's love interest, but in another way, she is perfect. The film is not about De Niro finding a girlfriend. This is just something that happens along the way. The film is about De Niro helping Anne Hathaway come to terms with being a business woman, a wife, and a mother, so minimizing the Rene Russo role kind of works.
My only real problem with The Intern is this one scene. Ben and Jules take a trip to San Francisco, so she can interview a person for the CEO position. In Jules' room, they turn on the TV and Singin' in the Rain is playing. I'm not buying it. The only network that would be playing Singin' in the Rain is TCM, and they never have TCM in hotels. Never. I was going to give The Intern 4 (of 5) stars, but this whole TCM thing totally took me out of the movie, so I'm going to give it 2 stars. Okay, just kidding, but never having TCM in the hotel is a thing for me. Still, I will let the 4 stars stand. The Intern was a good movie, well worth checking out.