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The Warsaw Voice » World of Movies » November 3, 2015
Film review
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The Intern
November 3, 2015   
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This warm, gentle, feel-good comedy penned by Nancy Meyers, Hollywood’s highest-grossing female director (What Women Want, It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give), delivers exactly what you would expect it to deliver. Regardless of whether you are 20 or 70 years old, you will find something to like in this film, especially as the director steers clear of hackneyed stereotypes while even predictable scenes are often peppered with humorous touches that are a pleasure to watch. Both the leading and supporting actors deliver fine performances.

Retirement is something that doesn’t work for everyone. Ben Whittaker (Robert de Niro) finds himself unable to come to terms with it. The recently widowed 70-year-old, who worked for four decades producing phone books—clearly a sunset industry these days—tries to keep himself busy in various ways, be it by learning Mandarin Chinese, practicing tai chi in a local park, attending classes to master skills that are unlikely to ever come in handy for him, and traveling around the world, just to use up all those airline miles that he has collected over the years. He also keeps in touch with his son and grandchildren. But all this seems not enough to give a deeper meaning to his life. So he does not hesitate for a second when, during one of his morning walks to a cafeteria that he regularly visits, he notices a job announcement about senior citizen interns being sought for a firm. He is not even discouraged by the somewhat uncomfortable requirement whereby applicants are expected to submit their resumes and cover letters in the form of statements recorded on video and uploaded onto YouTube.

The company that Ben signs up to work for is the opposite of his former workplace (although, by a twist of fate, it is based in the very same building, which brings back fond memories). The online clothing trade is terra incognita for Ben—he even needs to ask his nine-year-old grandson what “USB” means. But, in line with the motto of the movie, “experience never gets old” and from the very first day of his internship, the perky retiree steals the show among his colleagues, most of them a few generations younger than him. His advice, both about the job and life in general, is welcomed. Ben is assigned to be the personal assistant of Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway—The Devil Wears Prada, The Dark Knight Rises), the CEO, who created her “e-tail clothing business” from a project she thought up in her kitchen and developed into a 220-strong company within a year and a half. Jules is initially strongly against the idea of having Ben as her PA (the senior internship program is mainly designed to enhance the company’s image), but before long she too finds herself won over by the kindhearted pensioner and his wealth of experience. Worldly wisdom is just the thing that the young woman badly needs. She is having a hard time finding a balance between work and family. Her husband Matt, having given up a career in marketing, has decided to become a stay-at-home dad, but taking care of a young daughter full time turns out to be fraught with dangerous temptations. In his daughter’s preschool, Matt finds himself surrounded by a bunch of young moms, many of whom are not averse to having an affair. Adding to the list of Jules’ problems is her own shrewish mother. Every phone conversation with her leaves Jules disconcerted and sours the atmosphere. On top of that, her position in the company is threatened; investors are pressing for a new CEO to be hired—someone who would de facto become Jules’ boss, although they would formally be employed by her. All this is proving just too much for the young woman, and this is exactly where the 70-year-old father figure steps in. As for Ben, he finally feels that someone really needs him.

Witold Żygulski
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