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About A New Fit: The Intern

Updated on November 14, 2015
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A retiree with time on his hands reenters the working world in The Intern. Robert De Niro stars as Ben Whitaker, a 70-year-old New York widower who once worked as a sales and marketing manager. In his quest to find something to do, he sees a flyer for a senior citizens intern program. He applies for a position, goes through a series of interviews, and gets hired. His employer is About The Fit, an omline clothing business founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). In less than two years, Jules has seen the business grow from a cottage industry to one with a 200-person staff, an office, and a warehouse. Ben is teamed with men one-third his age, including a young intern. Ben's interning assignment involves working with Jules herself, but she's such a hands-on boss, Ben has to find ways to keep himself busy. in addition to standing out from his younger co-workers by looking business-like, he also keeps himself occupied by doing things neglected by others around the office. He also makes friends with the ATF massage therapist, Fiona Farwell (Rene Russo). One day, though, Ben spots Jules's driver drinking on the job, and insists he go home. When the driver never returns, Ben takes that responsibility, and starts to share the skills he'd learned over a career.

While she works in all areas of About The Fit, her business adviser suggests, at the request of other ATF investors, that Jules find an experienced CEO for the company. That task becomes easier said than done, as nobody interested seems to take Jules or About The Fit as seriously as she'd like. By getting closer to Jules and being there for her every moment she's on duty, he learns about a potential problem on the Ostin home front. She's married to Matt Ostin (Anders Holm), a former marketing worker who became a stay-at-home dad to their daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner). He catches Matt cheating as he's bringing Paige home from a birthday party. When Matt decides to not travel to San Francisco with Jules to interview another CEO candidate, Ben agrees to go with her. There, he learns that Jules already knows, and offers her advise based on what he has observed about his boss.

The Intern is a good and generally light-hearted picture from writer-director Nancy Meyers. The picture offers a solid mix of young people looking to make their place in the world and older people who simply wish to keep themselves active and helpful in their own way. In the course of the film, viewers learn the connection between Ben's old job and his intern position. That moment shows how things change and grow obsolete over time, yet it also shows that some principles never grow obsolete. Success overall is never a guarantee, but hard work and belief in oneself is a measure of success in and of itself. Meyers, as a writer or director (her career in the industry began with a co-writing credit on Private Benjamin in 1980), has never been as insightful as she has been observant. Here, she entertains, and takes a couple of moments to get a little cute. In an early scene, Meyers shows Jules on the phone with a bride-to-be named Rachel. Hathaway played the troubled sister of the title character in 2008's Rachel Getting Married. As he prepares for his first day at his new job, Ben looks at himself in the mirror in the same way his character Travis Bickle did in the dark 1976 drama Taxi Driver. Viewers should hope, though, that Jules will find a way to reward Ben with more than a chance to intern for her.

The strongest part of The Intern is the chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway. De Niro, as Ben, dresses for success, even though casual attire is welcome. As his responsibility grows, he starts to necessarily balance his work life and his personal life. In an effort to make time for Fiona, for example, he spends time with her in a place meant for other sorts of social activity. He grows to like his co-workers so much, he opens his home to fellow intern Lewis (Jason Orley) when the young man needs a place to stay. The two are also a part of a comical covert mission to break into the home of Jules's mother when Jules sends an angry e-mail that she wants to make disappear. Hathaway is a young executive who never thought that her business would grow so quickly, but generally has great instinct with regards to her work. While initially unsure of Ben or her senior intern program, she learns that Ben has great value as a man with business experience. He sees things about Jules that Jules doesn't immediately recognize about herself. Jules juggles so much, she rarely has time to evaluate herself or About The Fit. Russo is enjoyable as Ben's new friend, and Holm, who's a part of the comic ensemble of the Workaholics series, shows himself effective at light drama as Matt. Holm's Workaholics co-star, Adam DeVine, has an amusing role as Ben's co-worker Jason, and Linda Lavin also amuses as Patty, a fellow retiree interested in Ben. I also enjoyed the work of Christina Scherer as Jules's busy secretary, who aspires to be as good a leader as her boss in time.

In a world where the life expectancy has grown, many are not done with work before life is done with them. At my job, I've seen more people stay beyond the traditional retirement age and show themselves useful for several years until they finally leave the work force for good. Ben Whitaker may have returned to work as a way to keep himself occupied, but he never takes the work as a hobby. The Intern shows a man who returns to being a productive part of a business, and a woman learning which advice works best with her business instincts. Jules has found unexpected growth in her business, but she makes decisions so quickly, she doesn't always reflect on how they impact her business or herself. With the help of her intern, she learns how to maintain growth and not lose sight of her vision on all fronts.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give The Intern three stars. Fitting in once again.

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