Nancy Meyers isn’t just a successful film director, she’s a brand. A genre. A way of life. Her films have spanned decades, and are often heralded as “chick flicks,” mislabeled as a way for her haters to diminish her successes. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with chick flicks, it’s just not fairly justified with her films. While it’s true they often have female protagonists, they are movies beloved by women AND men, just not always upon immediate release.
Movie Review: The Intern
By Danny Pellegrino
October 5, 2015
Name a father who doesn’t relate to the struggle of letting their daughter go like George Banks did in Father of the Bride, or a chronic bachelor who hasn’t thought about finding a woman his own age like Harry Sanborn in Something’s Gotta Give. Nancy Meyers may center films on a woman, but there is always a way in for the men in the audience. Hell, even Dennis Quaid got to show some pathos in The Parent Trap remake (that is, when Natasha Richardson and Lindsay Lohan weren’t charming our pants off). You may not like it, but these are stories about women and men, so don’t write them off so quickly. Also, if I haven’t convinced you that her movies might not be a chick flicks, please note that it’s 2015 and gender is fluid now.
Which brings me to The Intern. Anyone writing THIS off as a chick flick is wrong. It’s a story equally centered on Robert De Niro’s Ben and Anne Hathaway’s Jules. He’s a card carrying member of the AARP looking for a job to keep him busy, and she’s a card carrying member of Starbucks Gold looking to keep her business thriving. He’s a widower, she’s a wife and mother. Through movie magic, Jules and Ben begin working together at her vibrant e-commerce fashion company.
There are some other things going on - some stuff about her marriage, a little romance with him and a beautifully age-appropriate masseur named Fiona (Rene Russo, who continues her renaissance after an iconic performance in last year’s Nightcrawler), but the real magic is that this ISN’T a movie where there are constant explosions or superheroes teaming up nonsensically to defeat a faceless army of robots. Viewers can settle in knowing that a beautiful score will play as two people get to know each other among beautiful sets.
You can also rest easy knowing Robert DeNiro and Anne Hathaway don’t grossly fall in love in the end. I don’t say that to spoil anything, I say that because the experience will be much better as a viewer if you aren’t thinking that will ever be an option. She’s married, and he’s old, and we’ve seen old men get impossibly young girls in way too many other movies, so get it out of your head now!
So where were we? Ah, the magic. The real magic in a Nancy Meyers movie comes from everything supporting the pleasant plot. In The Intern, that magic is available in spades. Want a poetically written monologue about how millennial men grow up to be boys? It’s there. And like a good book, it will feel like a hug when delivered from the more than capable mouth of Anne Hathaway’s Jules. Want a beautiful set with a colorful pallet you could never afford? It’s there. This movie is Pinterest. You’ll finish each scene thinking about how you’re going to incorporate a hanging pan rack into your 1 bedroom apartment, and I mean that as the highest compliment. There’s so much to love in The Intern, and like many of Meyers' previous films, we will all find even more to love upon repeat cable viewings.
A few years ago we lost the amazing Nora Ephron. Her films were filled with similarly clever dialogue, beautiful sets, and inviting plotlines that rarely had an explosion. If you look at the marketplace now, these movies rarely exist. Ephron is gone, and a slew of copycats flooded the marketplace in the '90s and early aughts, leaving audiences exhausted by stories of working girls falling in love and thirsty for more hero movies. What masses didn’t realize was that only a few were doing those pleasant stories right.
The Katherine Heigl flicks of yesteryear have been quickly forgotten, but the Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron films have stood the test of time because they are wonderfully made. Should You’ve Got Mail still feel fresh? I certainly don’t know anyone that has used AOL since I grew out of my fat-phase (1999), but after 16 years it’s still regarded by many as a favorite. (Side note: it’s my all-time favorite movie, and if I knew all of your names and addresses I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils every fall just like Tom says to Meg via e-mail.)
If you do a quick Rotten Tomatoes search for Nancy Meyers projects, you will find a constant in that many critics hated them upon release. However, Baby Boom, Private Benjamin, It’s Complicated and The Holiday are still loved by many. Other critically acclaimed films might win Best Picture awards upon release, but you aren’t going to pop them in the DVD and watch over and over again (cough CRASH cough). The Intern is another film I truly believe will be appreciated in 10 years. It will run on TBS, or whatever method we’re using to watch things (probably some sort of microchip that is implanted into our brains via kale). We’ll pair it with a glass of wine and Meryl Streep in It’s Complicated, then tweet about what a wonderful night we’re having alone with our movie friends. #WillWeStillBeTweetingIn10Years?
There are a few other things I want to mention before wrapping up. Specifically, how sick it is that it feels progressive to have a female running a company, who is also a mother and not feeling awful for working. How has this been so rarely portrayed on screen the way it is in The Intern? I know lots of mothers that work and stay up all night thinking about how bad they are at mothering.
I’d also like to point out Adam Devine’s Jason, another intern at the company, who is so incredibly likable onscreen. Devine is likable in everything because he’s attractive while still being able to pull off the nerdy angle. I hope people realize how great he is and he becomes an even bigger star. Finally, I’d like to highlight Rene Russo as a human, hoping Nancy Meyers, or anyone else, sees this and is able to write a role suitable of her talents. Remember when she made her cameo in two Thor movies? I’m not even sure she spoke in the first one. She’s 61, not dead. Let’s do better.
In conclusion, if you thought everything I just said about Meyers/The Intern was B.S., you will probably hate The Intern. If you didn’t, grab a friend and make plans to see it this weekend with a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a cozy blanket. And remember, just because lots of people like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, doesn’t mean you have to hate it. You can like things that are popular without feeling guilty or with irony audibly in tow… you know, things like Nancy Meyers movies.