I fell in love with Ben Whittaker, Robert DeNiro's character, in the first five minutes of "The Intern." Ben is a seventy-year-old retired telephone book executive. He's super competent, humble, kind, caring, and hard-working. His eyes twinkle and his cheeks are pinchable. He would make the perfect father, boss, or Santa. Ben Whittaker is writer-director Nancy Meyers' best creation yet. I didn't just like Ben, I found him believable, thanks to DeNiro's superb performance. I have to guess it's not easy playing such a nice person in a believable way.
Ben is unsatisfied by retirement so he takes a position as an intern at About-the-Fit, a fashion start-up, the brainchild of Jules (Anne Hathaway). Jules is impersonal and demanding, again, in a very believable way. Ben, worldly-wise and humble man that he is, makes positive changes in the company. He is a kindly mentor to younger male employees who rarely shave and don't tuck in their shirts. Ben explains to them why a man should always carry a clean handkerchief.
Anne Hathaway is so beautiful it's hard for me to assess her acting. I keep focusing on her face. I found her very believable as a driven businesswoman lacking in people skills. The movie softens her. There are scenes where she is revealed to have a toasty warm marshmallow heart. I was disappointed by those scenes and didn't find them believable or interesting. I wish the script had been as interesting and believable in its development of Jules as it was with Ben.
There are two relationships in the movie that didn't work for me at all. Jules is married to Matt (Anders Holm). I could see a really beautiful, driven woman married to a charisma-free, vaguely creepy schlub like Matt, so, yes, Holm was believable. I just didn't want Jules, this brilliant, talented, interesting woman, to be married to Matt.
Ben dates Renee Russo, and that relationship didn't work for me, either, although, again, it was believable. Ben has the wrinkled face and thinning, gray hair of a man in his seventies. Russo looks like a Hollywood actress fighting time, rather than like most real women her age. Also I saw no onscreen chemistry between these two. Linda Lavin does look like a real, older woman, and she is in the movie as a predatory, mean and obscene old lady. There are cheap jokes at her expense. It's sad but not surprising that Nancy Meyers, a woman herself, depicted an older woman as an old witch, and set her up for coarse humor, and rewarded a much younger, and more Botoxed woman with romance.
"The Intern" is one of those rare, recent movies for adults where nothing horrible happens. Nobody dies or behaves in a deeply despicable way or loses his cool and screams obscenities or knocks the movie off the rails. There are no body fluids on display. "The Intern" really is a feel good movie. If you are ever having a lousy day and you want to watch something that will give you a smile and make you feel good about humanity, please consider "The Intern."