starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo and Anders Holm
written and directed by Nancy Meyers
Called “My Intern” in Japan, Robert De Niro plays 70-year old Ben Whittaker, a healthy, active, widowed, retired businessman looking for something new to occupy himself. He applies for an internship at an online fashion company that, co-incidentally, occupies the old factory building where he used to work as an executive at the phone book company. After successfully negotiating the new-fangled technology in the application process he is hired by a fast-growing e-commerce company called “About the Fit,” run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Ben is assigned to work as Jules’ personal assistant. After a very slow start he shows his competence. The film is full of generation gap humour between Ben and the other male interns who are all young. Ben always wears a suit and necktie. The young men are in jeans and T-shirts. Ben always carries a handkerchief. The young men are Kleenex people. Ben always shaves. The young men look like shaggy college students. This shaving every day thing really intrigues the younger men. They can’t understand why he does it if there is no pressing need, like a date. Ben adorns his desk with an analog clock, a pen and writing pad, a pocket calculator, and a picture of his late wife. The young men have comic book action figures. Ben is polite and deferential to his superiors in the office even though he is much older than they, and he never leaves the office before the boss does. At first Ben is an oddball at a fast-paced, youth-oriented business, but after his slow start he is quickly embraced as part of the team, and his experience and knowledge as a successful businessman shines through the modern technology screen.
I question the premise of a senior citizen intern. It’s an odd premise for a goof-ball comedy, but it lacks any sense of realism because there is no goal to his internship. I mean, he is not training for a career like all the other interns are, so there is really no point to it. Instead, his character is there just to give fatherly advice, wisdom and some stability to the turbulence of Jules’ business expansion. I liked it. Even though it’s silly it’s still cute and fun, which seems to be a characteristic of Director Nancy Meyers’ work.