Anita Casey-Reed


One of the many things I love about Robert DeNiro is how he listens. Some actors are just up there waiting to say their next line, but not DeNiro. No matter what sort of a character he is play-ing, that person is always listening and observing the scene around him, mentally active even when not physically involved in the action. That's what makes DeNiro perfect as the title charac-ter in Nancy Meyers' 2015 comedy "The Intern".

DeNiro plays Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower who just can't handle the inactivity of being retired. He decides to apply for a "senior intern program" at an online fashion company, and finds himself entering a very different workplace environment than what he knew from his pre-vious career. The company is run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), who has built the operation from scratch into a booming business, but is now being pressured by her investors to turn the reins over to a more experienced CEO.

One of the knocks on writer/director Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give") is that she makes pretty movies about rich people who have problems the rest of us can only dream about having. I think that people need to consider that Meyers is setting her stories in a world she knows, but still talk-ing about relatable issues. What's it like to have a world of experience, but realize that other people think your knowledge is no longer relevant? What's it like to be juggling work and home and constantly be told that what you're doing isn't enough?

Part of what makes the casting of DeNiro so interesting here is that most of his comedic roles (think "Analyze This" or "Meet the Fockers") rely on the menacing persona he's known for in his dramatic work. Ben is a very different character from that, and in some respects it's much more difficult to play a good and competent person. How much DeNiro succeeds is both due to his talent and to Meyers' writing. Rather than being all about old-timers teaching young whippersnappers how it's done, or the youngsters showing the old fuddy-duddies how the world works now, Meyers makes "The Intern" into a genial, optimistic comedy about what can happen when people are willing to listen, observe, and take the best from the past and the present and blend them together.

"The Intern" is rated PG-13 for some language and situations, but it's perfect for date nights on the couch or watching with your teenagers.

Anita Casey-Reed is a member of the Cinema 100 Film Society, a volunteer for the Dakota Digital Film Festival and co-host of "Reel Retro" on Dakota Media Access. She lives in Bismarck with her husband and two children.