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The Intern reviews: What are the critics saying?

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Francois Duhamel

In The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway was the lowly intern working for the demanding dragon-lady who rules the pages of the most influential fashion magazine. In The Intern, the tables have been turned. Or at least she’s been promoted. Hathaway plays Jules Ostin, the founder and CEO of a successful Brooklyn e-commerce startup. But this is a Nancy Meyers movie — a female wish-fulfillment sub-genre that includes Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, and The Holiday — so Jules isn’t a fire-breathing boss. In fact, she might need some help from her own intern, Ben, played by Robert De Niro, who just so happens to be an old-school retiree who represents both a comforting father figure and a noble practitioner of the lost art of 20th-century masculinity.

Ben comes to Jules’ company as part of a special senior-intern program and quickly makes his mark on the company, even though his professional career was previously dedicated to selling phone books. The men at the office — and Meyers seems to use that word loosely — can’t help but gravitate toward him, like Chandler and Joey once admired Tom Selleck’s character on Friends. And Jules, too, might have something to learn, especially as it relates to the working-mom dilemmas that complicate her life. Can Ben bring his gentle geriatric wisdom to bear on both sides, and find fresh meaning in his own life at the same time? Can you order that couch from Anthropologie?,” writes EW’s Leah Greenblatt, in her B- review. “By the end of two breezy if sometimes belabored hours, the first question will be duly answered, if not the second.”

To read more of Greenblatt’s review and a sampling of other critics from across the country, scroll below:

Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly)

“De Niro seems a little lost; his Ben is muted to the point of evanescence … It’s like watching a lion who’s been defanged and given a tofu bone to gnaw on. Then again, asking for sharper edges in a movie that can hardly find a ­person of color in New York City — let alone a pigeon or a poorly situated apartment — is probably futile. Because it’s not actually New York we’re seeing at all. It’s Nancy’s Narnia, and as much a fantasy as she wants it to be.”

Ty Burr (Boston Globe)

“Meyers has loaded up the movie’s designer paper plate until it buckles. She’s so desperate to make sure Jules has it all and then some that the plot stops making sense. (The characters may look kindly on that errant husband, but we’re not likely to.) For a comedy that presents itself as forward thinking, The Intern is bizarrely retrograde, implying that every working woman only needs a cuddly Yoda daddy to make it in the world of business. It’s soft in the heart — and soft in the head.”

Richard Roeper (Chicago Sun-Times) ▲

The Intern invites us to settle in from the start and practically throws a fleece blanket over our legs and asks us if we’d like some popcorn. It’s a lovely comfort movie, nestled softly in a cynicism-free zone.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Intern was written and directed by Nancy Meyers and in no way seems to lie or pander. It seems the product of a sincere vision, but what a vision. It’s hard to know what’s the right response — admiration or perplexity, maybe a mix of both — to see an imaginative world made entirely of smooth surfaces. For sure, it’s some kind of achievement to make really sweet people entertaining for two whole hours.”

Kimberley Jones (Austin Chronicle)

“Meyers has always been savvy about what’s trending, and long before somebody invented a word for it. Of course, savvy is not the same as insightful, and Meyers’ m.o. – an exceptionally profitable one – has been known to dress her films like a Pinterest wall of ideality, a save-to-shopping-cart vision of aspirational living. (Come for the A-list actors, but leave mulling a farmhouse sink.)”

Stephen Farber (Hollywood Reporter)

“This film proves how political correctness can damage a movie. … Jules has a stay-at-home husband and an adorable daughter in addition to a stimulating career. It’s all a little too perfect. There is one surprise twist in the third act that suggests her life may not be as ideal as she thinks. But even this stumbling block is resolved much too quickly and neatly. The whole movie is way too tepid to scintillate.”

Stephen Whitty (Newark Star-Ledger)

“Meyers’ real point is that while women like Hathaway’s character have taken on new responsibility and maturity, the men their age have regressed into perpetual boyhoodie, high-fiving dudes and playing Minecraft. Bring back old-fashioned gentlemen, Meyers cries. I agree. Except the film doesn’t really portray Hathaway’s character as that much more mature than the bros around her — she’s flighty, disorganized, given to public tears…”

Guy Lodge (Variety)

“There’s a genuine crackle of chemistry between Hathaway and De Niro to sell us on their characters’ mutual appreciation: Both actors can perform this kind of personality-led comedy on cue, but also tease out unscripted hints of inner conflict when so inclined. Hathaway does particularly well in a role that frequently draws direct attention to its own unlikeability: Both the steelier and more genial sides of the actress’s signature class-captain charisma play persuasively into her business persona.”

Ann Hornaday (Washington Post)

“Although Hathaway adroitly avoids playing Jules as yet another brittle, neurotic career gal, she’s almost completely devoid of the contradictions that would make the character far more interesting. Meyers clearly didn’t want to punish Jules’s ambition by making her unsympathetic, but the result is a character with no edges — sharp or otherwise — to speak of.”

Mark Olsen (Los Angeles Times)

“De Niro brings a fresh, relaxed lightness to his performance, tinged with the gruff charm of Spencer Tracy. Many of the best moments in the film involve placing Ben in relief to the younger male employees who become his de facto charges … [but] Meyers cheats a bit in making Ben already evolved as a self-described feminist in his thinking regarding women in power in the workplace and as breadwinners at home.”

Manohla Dargis (New York Times)

“De Niro owns the movie from the moment he opens his mouth, and is staring into the camera and right at you. (Oh, yes, he’s lookin’ at you.) You can’t look away, and soon you don’t want to. Certainly Ms. Meyers doesn’t want anyone to because, though she loves the idea of the successful, independent woman, she also ardently wants to make room for daddy.”

Overall Metacritic rating (1-100): 52

Rotten Tomatoes: 53 percent

Rated: PG-13

Length: 122 minutes

Starring Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro

Directed by Nancy Meyers

Distributor: Warner Bros.