WARNING: This article contains plot spoilers for the movie The Intern.
Being an eternal sucker for romantic comedies, I was immediately drawn to see The Intern from the first preview.
The Intern sticks out from other films of the genre instantly, though, because it is a special rom-com. It is not the typical story of boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, something dramatic happens pulling them apart and boy and girl wind up together, usually married, in the end. Instead, The Intern did follow a similar format, but with key differences that let led Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway to shine.
The main story follows retired widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) who wants more out of life than retirement, so he applies to be a senior intern for an online clothing company. He becomes the personal intern for the company’s founder, Jules Ostin (Hathaway).
The story unfolds as Ben learns the ways of digital technology and tries to be a subtle mentor for Jules as she struggles with her board of directors wanting to hire a seasoned CEO for the company.
The “special” part of this rom-com is Ben and Jules’ relationship. They meet in unlikely circumstances and do not fall in love, but rather grow to have a deep friendship and mutual respect for each other, like a bond between grandfather and granddaughter. This bond is established as overworked Jules slowly grows on the idea of having Ben around and letting him assist in her daily activities. The bond is established when Ben becomes Jules’ driver. From there, Ben starts to help take care of her daughter when her husband is not around.
The dramatic part of the relationship comes when Jules learns that her husband has been cheating on her while she is in the middle of deciding whether to hire a potential CEO. Ben helps to console Jules, which leads to a very nice scene of them talking to each other and Ben giving advice.
This scene was De Niro and Hathaway’s shining moment. Both are great rom-com actors that were able to add the perfect amount of drama and comedy to a more serious scene. They also had a great on-screen connection that allowed them to feed off each other’s acting.
It even seemed that Mr. De Niro’s character was similar to how he is in real life. Ben is a humble, gentle man who is always looking to put others before himself. He helps to mentor not only Jules, but the other much younger interns and staff at the company.
Not only is Ben a realistic character, but Jules is as well. She is an obsessive boss trying to make her upstart company grow even bigger while managing a shaky family life at home. By spending 12 to 15 hours a day at the office, she often forgets what matters most. This is relatable to a lot of people, which helped add to the charm of the film.
Finally, the ending of this special rom-com is the worst part of the film. It has a very open-ended conclusion, allowing the audience to decide for themselves what happens next. This was a terrible ending because rom-coms, like all comedies, should end on a solid, good note/ending. The audience should know the exact ending to the story, unlike a drama or thriller where the audience gets a chance to decide the ending.
The ending to The Intern is highly predictable in that Jules sticks to her gut and does not hire a CEO, winds up staying married and Ben becomes her best friend. It ends with Jules going to see Ben in a park at yoga class to tell him the news. The ending almost ruins the comedy and story of the film, but it overall remained a pretty good rom-com.