There is a new (kinda) genre in writing called, “Boomer Lit”. Now it’s not really an official genre, and it hasn’t caught on yet, but some writers have begun writing stories about and with us old fogies.
The Intern is a movie that fits well within that category.
It’s not the first. For example(s), Darling Companion, Ricki and the Flash, Last Vegas (starring 4 old geezers) were all Boomer Movies and all were boomer movies starring Kevin Kline.
The Intern is a Boomer Movie — about a baby boomer for baby boomers.
Robert De Niro plays Ben (great name) Whittaker, a retired executive who finds himself alone with lots of free time after his wife passes away. So, he applies for and gets a job as a Senior Intern - an intern job for old farts.
Unfortunately, the movie is about as unrealistic as an Oscar-winning Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger film.
The idea that Ben, a former vice president of a corporation, would become a lowly intern is difficult to grasp.
His boss, Jules (Anne Hathaway), is the president and founder of the company that hires him and is so sweet, gentle, kind and compassionate (I know - those words are semi-synonyms - but they all apply) it’s hard to imagine she is driven enough to be in the position she is. I’ve worked with six or seven company presidents and none of them were as sweet (read that as ‘empathetic’) as she. She answers phones for customer service reps, comes to work at about 9:00 and goes home at around 5:00 (it’s always light outside) every day, except for one night when she has to work late and eats pizza for dinner. She carries cups of coffee to employees. She shows manufacturing people how to package their products correctly. Oh, were it so.
Three twenty-something front-line employees are so enamored with the old man intern that they follow him around all over the office, asking for advice and trying out every one of his suggestions. (Really?) And they’re stereotyped buffoons, only knowing how to talk to girls through social media, stumbling over themselves constantly, wearing nerdy clothes, etc.
He speaks to a woman who is married to a philandering man and in no time at all, he changes his wicked ways and their marriage is saved! No marital counseling needed.
But what frustrates me the most is there is no antagonist and no character arc. De Niro has no nemesis and never has to overcome anything (except going to work, which ain’t no thang). He doesn’t grow or change throughout the movie.
In fact, De Niro seems out of place throughout the film. Action is limited to driving Hathaway around the city, babysitting her young child (a real red flag in the corporate world - trust me, I’m an ex-HR guy) and basically observing those around him like a weird stalker. Most of the time he simply stands around and makes funny faces as if trying to appear engaged, compassionate, knowledgeable, etc.
All of this leads me to believe The Intern is a Boomer Movie, written specifically for Woman Boomers. I imagine the writer/director created this piece for the little old blue-haired ladies who would see it, smile, say to each other, “Ben’s such a nice man… Just look at how he helps those poor young boys… And he never does anything wrong… And he’s sooooo wise… What the hell is a USB cable?”
And, if that’s the goal, the movie accomplishes it easily. Women Boomers will love it. They’ll swoon over it. They’ll wish their sons and daughters all had a senior intern like Ben.
I really wanted to like The Intern. I love the cast. I liked the predictable premise. I imagined all of the great things this story could tell.
And I did enjoy it, on a sweet, simplistic, unrealistic, almost fairy tale level.
But life’s not sweet, simplistic, unrealistic or fairy tale-ist. It’s full of tension and frustration and failure followed by regret and hopefully redeemed in one way or another.
While tailored for A-list actors, The Intern seems to have been written and directed by (wait for it…) an intern.
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