Why Does The Intern (2015) Breaks The Genre Film Barrier? [Review]

Over the years, we have seen a shift in the comedy genre starting from “bro comedies” to “all-women comedies” that were welcome with positive nods. However, the feel-good, drama-comedy movies still lacked the diversity until now. The Intern tells the story of a 70-year-old Ben Whittaker who wanted to go back to work after his wife died, and found a job at the local e-commerce firm as the intern to Jules, the founder who single-handedly built the company from scratch. Albeit the one-dimensional title, The Intern cleverly chose not to focus on Ben nor Jules, but more importantly on their relationship – a relationship that is not sexual nor romantic, but platonic, which is very rare in Hollywood movies.

Directed by the acclaimed Nancy Meyers, The Intern could easily fall into the quick-for-laugh comedy genre, or even the ageist-type of comedy; parading old man who couldn’t keep up with the technological advancement. The film could also focus on Jules going “Devil Wears Prada” on Ben. However, The Intern presents a different, dynamic kind of relationship where age and sex are not an issue. Jules is happily married with an adorable kid, while Ben found love in Fiona, the firm’s masseuse. What’s left then? When Jules is asked to search for a possible CEO candidate by her friend/colleague, she realised she has juggled with too much and in need of help. The stress is then doubled by the fact that her husband has cheated on her. Here is when the characters’ chemistry are tested: Will Ben be her father figure or her friend? There is a scene in a hotel room with Jules and Ben on bed, where she confess her worries and dilemma to the 70 year-old intern. The scene was delightful and heartwarming, as it brilliantly summarize the movie’s experience: a feel-good movie about two polar opposites characters filled with hearts and side laughs. We are not asked to define Jules and Ben relationship, since it doesn’t matter.

The direction of The Intern is neither slow nor fast, filled with easy to understand dialogues with workable side laughs; watch out for the scene where Ben and his young coworkers stole Jules’ mother’s computer in an “Ocean Eleven” kind of way. The script is not perfect, but it works given the characters’ chemistry and the movie’s narration. I must also say that it’s hard not to notice Jules’ clothing, sporting colourful and chic style as a start-up owner, designed by Jacqueline Demeterio – definitely Anne Hathaway second stylish movie after the Prada.

Robert De Niro’s performance as Ben is a treat to watch. The 72 year-old actor definitely gave a refreshing performance after years; Ben is portrayed as kind and helpful and even sensitive, yet his character doesn’t came off as sugary but more human than other drama-comedy film. Meanwhile, Anne Hathaway still remains as one of my favourite actresses and her performance as Jules reminds me why. Hathaway has a genuine beauty and sincere approach with acting. She can be over-the-top in some movies, true, but she is never unbearable at least to me. With Jules, the 33 year-old actress played her as I expected: a workaholic, smart and confident woman with a one woman show attitude. She started out strong with her “riding a bike in the office” persona, yet Jules slowly warms up to you by being vulnerable towards the end, especially when she has to decide about her marriage’s fate (Jules’ decision shocked me, but it happens in real life).

The Intern can easily be forgotten as a feel-good movie with average script at best, or can be seen as a movie that paved the way for unrestricted comedy with gender-free characters for years to come.

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