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‘The Intern’ offers comedic look into complicated friendship

Senior citizens with laptops, masseuses in corporate setting fill screen with unexpected contradictions

“The Intern” is a film that starts off comedic but slowly weaves in romance and drama to depict an unconventional story of friendship. Brown Motion Pictures hosted a free advance screening of the upcoming film Thursday night in a packed Martinos Auditorium at the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts.

Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro star in the film, alongside other fan-favorite actors playing minor roles in the film, including Adam DeVine of “Workaholics” and “Pitch Perfect” and Andrew Rannells of “Girls” fame.

De Niro’s voice carried powerfully throughout the theater. He appears on screen suddenly, taking a Tai Chi class and talking about the trials and triumphs of being a retired widower, eventually facing the screen. Quickly, the viewer realizes he is talking to a camera offstage. This role is atypical for the two-time Oscar winner, famous for playing Vito Corleone in “The Godfather Part II” and Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull.” De Niro frequents the screen as a power figure who withstands pain and shows no weakness, but his character Ben Whittaker in “The Intern” is vulnerable, charismatic, wise and eager to learn more about the digital age alongside much younger millennials.

Hathaway sticks with the status quo by playing Jules Ostin, the uptight, intense, sleep-deprived e-commerce entrepreneur. Her business, called About the Fit, consumes her life, leaving her little time to spend with her young daughter and stay-at-home husband. Jules and Ben meet through About the Fit’s senior internship program, which is specifically for 65-and-older adults looking for experience in a new age of business and technology. Ben becomes Jules’s personal intern, and the two develop a surprising friendship. They both become mentors to each other, Jules teaching Ben about the startup and Ben teaching Jules tough life lessons while acting as a support system.

While the film centers on the relationship between the two, the real humor comes from Ben’s other relationships: primarily, three twenty-something males. Bridging the generation gap proves entertaining and relatable in the movie. At one point, Jason (Adam DeVine) asks Ben how to win a girl back and Ben responds, “Well, have you talked to her?” “No, I should probably do that, right?” Jason says. Ben’s other relationship is with the company’s masseuse, Fiona (Rene Russo). The two meet when Fiona is sent over to Ben for a rather sensual massage that ends with some fist bumps from his new young buddies and a newspaper on his lap. On a first date, Ben takes Fiona to a funeral, a morbidly funny outing.

De Niro’s character creates relationships with his coworkers rather quickly, establishing trust and relatability almost immediately. It is due to his warm personality than Jules opens up to Ben and trusts him with information about her personal life. The drama culminates when Ben finds out Jules’ husband, Matt (Anders Holm) is cheating on her while Jules has to decide whether or not she wants an outsider to take on the role of CEO at her company. The tension builds as Ben worries about breaking the news to Jules, while she in turn faces decisions about the future of her company.

The last scene of the film brings the whole production full circle: a shot of De Niro taking the same Tai Chi class as in the beginning of the film. With its depiction of the trials and tribulations of growing up and getting old, the film leaves the audience, at the very least, with a renewed appreciation for their elders.


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