3 Stars – Wholesome
In a nation where older people are often ignored or excluded, it is delightful to have a film focusing on their wisdom. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, she brings the same charm and insight to The Intern as she did in her previous films Father of the Bride, Father of the Bride II and The Parent Trap. Herself coming to the age of sixty-six, she has now turned her gaze from parenting to retirement.
The central character in her story is a seventy-year-old widower named Ben (Robert de Niro). Having been a faithful company man for over 40 years, Ben now finds himself faltering after five years of travel and trying to keep busy. Seeing a flyer for an innovative opportunity in a start-up internet business, Ben applies to be a senior intern for All About the Fit.
The founder of this clothing company is a multi-talented young woman named Jules (Anne Hathaway). Starting the company only eighteen months earlier around her kitchen table, Jules is now overwhelmed by her success as she guides 216 employees in her thriving business. A thoughtful and kind woman whose desire for excellence is seen in every aspect of the company, Jules’ right-hand man Cameron (Andrew Rannells) looks at their very young staff and suggests that they start an intern program for people over 65 who can bring their wisdom into the company culture. It is this decision that brings Ben into Jules’ life.
With a subtlety that comes from a lifetime of management experience, Ben is skilled at both the respect and the guidance Jules needs as her company seeks to free her from her ever-present leadership. In addition, Jules marriage to Matt (Anders Holm) has become strained when she becomes too busy to take any active part in their home life. This is exacerbated by his willingness to give up his promising career in order to stay home and take care of their daughter Page (JoJo Kushner).
The tale is not predictable and the relationship that develops between Ben and Jules is far richer than would be expected. It is this depth that takes this wholesome film to the next level and provides some wonderful insight into not only retirement but work, family, dating, marriage and leadership. This film is another jewel in Nancy Meyers artistic achievements.
1. If you are young, how do you look at retired people? Do you ignore and discount them or value and engage them? Do you seek out their wisdom gained from experience? How has your behavior enriched or harmed you?
2. If you were Jules would you forgive Matt for his betrayal? If you were Matt would you become a stay-at-home dad? How would you have navigated the responsibilities of both a start-up company and young family?
3. The dialogue in this film reveals a deep understanding of the nature of relationships. Do you think a young writer could have created this or did it take a mature person like Meyers? Why do you answer as you do?