The Intern’ works hard but can’t save a lifeless production

Anne Hathaway in ‘The Intern’
Jeffrey M. Anderson

Two stars

The Intern Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro, Rene Russo. Directed by Nancy Meyers. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.

For a movie that’s supposedly about life experience, The Intern shows very little. Writer-director Nancy Meyers seems to love her characters, 70-year-old “senior intern” Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), and the “difficult” yet adorable owner/boss he works for at a startup Internet fashion company, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Meyers puts them through very human situations and struggles, and sometimes manages to ask questions about current feminist values. Throughout, both De Niro and Hathaway give everything they can—she breaks hearts, and he’s as likable as possible given that his character is more or less perfect. (“You always say the right thing,” another character tells him.)

But as a movie, The Intern is only barely watchable. After decades in the movie biz—her debut was as the screenwriter of Private Benjamin in 1980—Meyers has a directorial style consisting of bleached, polished images, scrubbed of life. There’s no dramatic tension in her flat, film-school frames, and nearly every scene is drizzled with a twittery, tinkly musical score, thereby dousing any potential comedy in this would-be comedy-drama. Outside of the two stars, the rest of the cast, no matter how talented, are reduced to stock players with a single personality trait each. At least the hard-working De Niro and Hathaway nearly keep this company afloat.

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