The Intern (2015)


Should I blog about films that I really don’t recommend? I seem to see quite a few of these and there’s often not much to say other than, “it’s a dog, don’t bother.” I went to see The Intern last night at a proper cinema. I don’t often get to see movies at the cinema when they are first released and I wouldn’t really have picked that particular film but we were near the Kino and The Martian had only front row seats left (and at the Kino that would have meant sitting half way up Matt Damon’s nose) so the only other session about to start was The Intern.

Hmm. Well. The story is basically about a successful young entrepreneur, Jules (Anna Hathaway), whose Internet shopping business has gone gangbusters in 18 months and seems to be doing fine although there is one messy desk. She rather pretentiously rides a bike around the office (although gets chauffeur-driven in a car everywhere else) and is very hands on, sitting in on customer calls, visiting the dispatch factory yada yada yada. An underling who might be a manager and has a fair bit of charisma (hello Elijah from Girls) decides to employ a handful of ‘senior’ interns, queue Robert de Niro as punctual and detail-oriented widower, Ben. Ben is assigned to Jules who doesn’t want anything to do with him, obviously not realising that his penchant for suits and not saying much with a kindly face means he has much to teach her, poor, female leader of a successful company. So far so Hollywood.

And then comes the plot twist. The ‘investors’ want to bring in a CEO (as the company is doing so well and everyone is happy) as surely doe-eyed bike-riding Bambi Jules won’t have the ability of an experienced (male) to lead them on to bigger and better things. The CEO will be Jules’s ‘boss’ and so she must decide whether to transform into a doormat in order to save her marriage with wet blanket house husband  (“he prefers ‘stay at home dad'”) Matt or just get on with the job she is obviously doing just fine at. Now I wonder who might be able to help her with that? Suit. Kindly face. You’re not great at your job until a bloke tells you so.

So that’s the first thing about this movie, the plot makes absolutely no sense. Why not just employ a manager? Delegate more? Ask someone to clean up the messy desk? There are many obvious contrivances to build a narrative of a successful business women ‘not coping’ so that she must get to the point of choosing family over career (yawn) but none of it is particularly logical or believable. There is a bit of token ‘girl power’ dialogue thrown in to try and fool us that this film is progressive and not still banging the same drum as Mrs Doubtfire but don’t believe it. The mistakenly-sent email and unprofessional and out-of-character reaction was particularly offensive.

This didn’t have to be a terrible movie. There are some great supporting characters. I wanted to see much more of Cameron and Becky and Jason and Lewis and Davis, all minor underlings employed for disposable humour but far more interesting than the leads. There could have been a great development of the friendship between Jules and Ben, two generations with much to learn from each other but this, although it is the main story arc, is shallow and one-sided. This felt like a film pitched by a movie producer and then written by a committee, far far less than the sum of its parts.

Bechdel test – pass (but it’s still an offensive film)
1 star

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