Nancy Meyers was my first favourite director.
I was seven years old, and with my freckles and auburn hair looked remarkably like Lindsay Lohan in THE PARENT TRAP. Naturally because of this I took a shine to this film (age seven my only criteria for a good film was if someone ginger was in it, see MADELINE). And by ‘took a shine’ I mean I watched on repeat until my VHS broke and I had to beg my dad to get me a new one from Woolworths.
I probably didn’t really know what a director was, what their role is in creating a film, but I knew Meyers was my favourite. I graduated to PRIVATE BENJAMIN, THE HOLIDAY, SOMETHINGS GOTTA GIVE and then more recently fell in love all over again with IT’S COMPLICATED. While my film tastes have certainly changed, matured and become much more eclectic, I still held a soft spot for her in my heart. Her films aren’t going to win any great awards, they aren’t going to be revered for years to come, but they make you feel good, which is sometimes all you want.
I just don’t feel like THE INTERN can be put with these other four films. It isn’t entirely unenjoyable, but it was missing the wit and spark that the others had. Which makes seven-year old me deeply sad. As a quick catch up, consider THE INTERN as THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA 2.0. Anne Hathaway’s character (Jules) now runs a hugely successful internet start-up fashion company, whose offices are in an old factory in Brooklyn. Very 2015 indeed. Come to crease her expensive silk blazer is Robert De Niro’s character Ben who applies for a Senior Intern Programme and becomes Jules’ intern. Predictably they do not get on like a house on fire…until they do. Personal ups and downs come along the way and they are both able to grow and learn etc…you get it? Like many a tale before it, it was obvious but sweet.
Robert De Niro was surprisingly (and contrary to what I had anticipated) captivating in every scene and real a joy to watch; there’s still some magic in those old bones for sure! In fact, his stature carries the film. For me the scenes without him feel forced, feeble and worse of all, fake. Now I admit I am one of those in the ‘I irrationally dislike Anne Hathaway’ camp which probably doesn’t help with my overall enjoyment of the film. I find her character to be bizarre; she is supposedly a high flyer, kick-ass company boss/mother and yet she is entirely weak. Her character has no backbone and it’s left to Ben, the 70-year-old man, to remind her that she needed to stop being so god damn submissive and start recognising that she is a woman at the top of the male dominated tech field. I completely agree with the direction it was pushing us and the intent of that, but without backing it up with actions it is all empty words. It felt like feminism was being thrown out without rationale behind it, almost like someone has been trawling thought #instaquotes and picked the top 5 that week, instead of actually trying to say something of meaning. When you need De Niro to mansplain feminism to you you know something is wrong.
This message is repeated so often it left us all basically screaming at the screen when at the end (I will try not to give too much away but you can pretty much guess the whole this anyway) she proves herself to be a perfectly good dutiful wife… yawn! I wanted to see all the sides of her, her anger and her sadness and her losing it all a bit more in order to regain it. Perhaps I’m asking too much in a film like this. But I think that in 2015 films can be lighthearted, and funny and silly, and still have an important thing to say. I wanted to come out thinking “Wow, that was something” instead of “Wow, Anne’s hair was really shiny.”
That being said the supporting cast are great, and I really enjoyed the ‘Buddy Movie’ element that was weaved in with De Niro and the other interns. It made what was otherwise a fairly saccharine film lighter and funnier. The music is also really great. I think this is one thing Meyers always does really well in all of her films, using music to really capture the mood of each scene so perfectly and lift the energy.
It was however, for a film of this genre, unnecessarily long. Perhaps if it had cut some of the middle and made it 25 minutes shorter it might have had more of an impact, instead of dragging on a bit. When you are playing with stories that have been done before, making them longer does not equal making them better.
But maybe that was just me, maybe I expected too much from Meyers. I have built her up for 16 years as a creator of loveliness and she let me down. That is not to say others won’t love this. My mum certainly did.
The Final Word: Not Meyer’s best