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Robert De Niro Can’t Save ‘The Intern’

The Intern is the kind of nice, good-hearted movie you can safely take your mother to see. Normally I have no problem with films like this, and I’ve enjoyed some of writer-director Nancy Meyers’ earlier comedies (Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated). This one is just too obvious and superficial for my taste.

Robert De Niro plays a well-heeled widower and former business executive who’s bored with life since his wife passed away. That’s why he responds when a hip Internet retailer in Brooklyn (where else?) sends out flyers seeking “senior interns.” He’s diligent and reliable, but nearly meets his Waterloo when he’s chosen to work as personal assistant to the company’s driven, tightly-focused founder (Anne Hathaway), who doesn’t want to be helped. Needless to say, he soon proves his worth to her in more ways than one.

Like all of Meyers’ movies, The Intern is populated with likable actors and exquisite-looking sets, but in terms of content it’s strictly routine. Even the well-cast costars can’t do much with this material, especially when it turns mushy near the end.

If this serves as comfort food for a sector of the moviegoing audience, so be it; I can’t help wishing for something better. This isn’t even up to Meyers’ usual standard.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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