Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

"The Intern," a surprisingly feminist critique

Let’s face it: the only reason I (and probably anyone for that matter) saw director Nancy Meyer’s “The Intern” was to see Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro on the screen for two hours.
I braced myself for the motifs that ensue with a film about an overbooked, working class mom: a stressed wife and judging housewives. Thankfully, though, the film addresses all of these tropes perfectly though feminism.
De Niro’s character Ben is a 70-year-old retired widower who is bored. Hathaway’s character Jules runs an online fashion store startup looking to hire senior citizen interns.
Though it seems highly unlikely a firm would be looking to hire on interns who most likely only have one answer to the question “where will you be in 10 years,” Ben has a lot to teach Jules’ employees.
The film highlights a clash of two vastly different cultures. The first is the old business mantra Ben has always known: always come to work in a suit, shave every day, face-to-face communication is a must, make sure to address your boss (who will be a white heterosexual male) as “sir” and work and play are as separate as in theory Church and state.
Ben slowly realizes that everything he knows about business (even his old job of selling phonebooks) has been replaced with casual wear every day and email as the primary form of communication. This is very real shift in business is highlighted in funny, yet overdone ways with younger guys looking to the older men for advice on how to talk to women since they have apparently lost the ability to do so and with Ben accidentally referring to Jules as “sir.”
Gender roles are also addressed in the film. Jules often discusses how she is looked down on as a working mother by the other stay at home moms at her daughter’s school. Another common feature in movies with a strong female lead could not possibly handle her workload, which is present in the film since Jules spends most of the film searching for a CEO to run her company. Though these themes are prevalent, Jules is a dynamic character that’s able to make her own choices which makes the film able to criticize the glass ceiling in new and interesting ways. Though Ben is supposed to be the main character of the film, it’s Jules’s journey that’s the real reason to watch.
Along with the issues of the working mother, the idea of older interns working at young firms is not a new theme in Hollywood. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson played two older men applying for an internship at Google in Shawn Levy’s “The Internship” in 2013. What makes this film different is Jules and Hathaway’s almost father-daughter like relationship. The two had perfect chemistry that made these revisited themes both hilarious and heartbreaking. It also helps that the always funny Adam DeVine, from “Pitch Perfect” is there to intensify awkward humor, a skill he seems to have mastered.
“The Intern” is worth seeing, because Meyers is willing to confront old stereotypes. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Hathaway and De Niro on screen for two hours?

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"The Intern," a surprisingly feminist critique