Set in a whitewashed Brooklyn, The Intern follows Ben (Robert De Niro), a good-natured widower who wants nothing more than to break his retirement funk. In comes Jules (Anne Hathaway) who, like every onscreen Hollywood career woman, is incapable of keeping on top of both her professional and family lives. She has founded an online fashion company which allows her to kookily ride her bike in the office and whose new senior intern program brings Ben on board. Cue the old guard teaching those cheeky, Apple-worshipping, emoticon-using scamps a thing or two about life and maybe, just maybe, Jules and Ben’s odd-couple dynamic will open her eyes to what truly matters.
From the opening musical cue, you know you’re in for a syrupy ride. Not a problem: no one walks into a Nancy Meyers (What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give) film expecting hard-hitting fare. There’s a feel-good formula to her films that is usually comforting, making them nothing to get annoyed about.
However, The Intern is a new low. It transforms what could have been an inoffensive and heart-warming anti-The Devil Wears Prada story about an unlikely friendship into an infuriatingly contrived confection. It yearns to be empowering but comes off as smug and patronising. The usual generational gags are worn out and genre tropes are not just acknowledged, they’re galvanized. Worst of all, it is woefully confused about its gender politics, painting women as men’s confident equals one minute and the next, neurotic caricatures who can only muster a good cry in a bath.
What are you left with? Trailer-tailored dialogue, De Niro rehashing his “look-I’m-old-now” shtick, an overly twee Hathaway and an underused Rene Russo, whose turn in last year’s Nightcrawler seems a long way away.
Stay well away from this overlong, painfully condescending film that will only bring on a bad case of the autumn blues.
The Intern | Directed by Nancy Meyers (USA 2015) with Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro. Starts September 24