Tag Archives: dramedy

The Intern (2015)


The Intern is not my kind of film, but I was willing to give it a shot because it stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. In the end, I’m glad I did. In fact, it might very well be my favourite Nancy Meyers film written and directed by the veteran filmmaker (this excludes What Women Want, which she did not write, and the Father of the Bride films, which she did not direct).

De Niro plays Ben Whittaker, a bored 70-year-old widower who decides to sign up for a senior internship at an online fashion start-up run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). At first, no one takes Ben seriously, most of all Jules, but as he continues to prove his worth and capabilities they finally realise he’s actually a superhero alien. Okay, that’s not exactly true, but it’s not that far off.

Strangely, it’s Ben’s other-worldly affability that makes The Intern such a watchable movie. De Niro’s excellent performance has a lot to do with it, but credit must also go to Meyers’ screenplay for not going too far so that it becomes hard to swallow. He’s just an incredibly nice, wise dude who knows what to do and say almost all the time. He’s kinda like Yoda.

Hathaway is also very good as Jules, who has more layers than Ben because she’s struggling to find a balance between work and family while being pressured to run her rapidly expanding business in a certain way. The rest of the cast, which features the likes of Rene Russo, Pitch Perfect‘s Adam DeVine and Anders Holm, all fill out the supporting roles to the right tune.

My problems with the film can be found in more or less all Nancy Meyers movies. It’s just too neat and tidy, too schmaltzy, too saccharine.  The humour is sweet, a little sexy at times, but generally very safe and nothing that will have you rolling in the isles. She knows what buttons to push to give her target audience what they want, but as a result the bittersweet vibe of her movies is always very similar. Even the conflicts play out the same. If you’ve seen the likes of It’s Complicated, Something’s Gotta Give and The Holiday, you’ll have an idea of what I mean.

The other issue I had is that Ben doesn’t undergo much character development, if any. He’s clearly the protagonist and the story is told from his perspective, but the journey belongs to Jules. Not that this ruins the movie, but I was kind of hoping that the old guy would have something to show for the whole experience.

Having said all that, The Intern is far better than I anticipated, largely thanks to the surprising chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway. There are certain ideas and gags in the film that would have been cringeworthy stuff in the hands of a lesser filmmaker, but the steady approach of Meyers ensures that things are pared back when they have to be. The result is a charming, breezy, and of course feel-good dramedy that fans of Meyers will lap up. This is the kind of film that I probably would have hated when I was a little younger or in a cynical mood, though I managed to catch it at the right time and enjoyed it a lot, certainly much more than I thought I would.

3.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

Never been a huge fan of ‘romantic dramedies’ (thanks, Mr Judd Apatow) but Crazy, Stupid, Love is somewhat of an exception.  While it’s far too long and suffers from some of the tonal unevenness often seen in such films, I found myself thoroughly enjoying this clever meshing of different stories about the beauty, excitement, angst and heartbreak of love and life.

Crazy, Stupid, Love is driven by several damaged but very likeable characters.  There’s Cal (Steve Carrell), a middle-aged man who discovers his wife (Julianne Moore) has been cheating on him with a colleague (Kevin Bacon).  There’s Jacob (Ryan Gosling), a wealthy playboy and expert in the art of seduction who takes Cal under his wing until he meets Hannah (Emma Stone), a young lawyer stuck with a loser boyfriend.  And there’s Cal’s 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo), who is obsessively in love with his babysitter Jessica, (Analeigh Tipton — who apparently was a high ranking contestant on America’s Next Top Model?!), who has a secret crush of her own.

It’s a ridiculously amazing ensemble cast that also features the always-brilliant Marisa Tomei (who almost steals the show) and everybody’s favourite husband from Fargo, John Carroll Lynch.  The performances really elevate the overall quality of the film, and I was personally surprised by Carrell’s drama acting chops as well as Gosling’s comedic acting chops.  For me, the standouts were Tomei, Gosling, Bobo and Tipton, but there were no weak links.

What impressed me most about Crazy, Stupid, Love was that the comedy side of it was genuinely funny (perhaps not gut bustingly so but amusing enough) and the drama side of it was actually romantic and emotionally effective too.  There aren’t many romantic dramedies I can think of in recent times that tick both boxes.  It also did a fabulous job of linking all the characters and stories together in a way many ensemble cast stories do but in a cleverer way.  This was not one of those sugar-coated, lovey-dovey movies with a predictable ending, even though it’s at times (bitter)sweet and full of heart.

I still don’t like romantic dramedies but if they can all be like Crazy, Stupid, Love (except a little shorter than its 118-minute-but-felt- longer running time) then I might be more willing to give them a try.

4 stars out of 5