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Review: ‘The Intern’ has great start and finish, forgettable middle

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“The Intern” is written and directed by Nancy Meyers and stars Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. The movie is about a 70-year-old man named Ben Whittaker (De Niro) who finds an opportunity to be an intern at an online fashion site that is run by the incredibly busy Jules Ostin (Hathaway).

This movie had me intrigued, mainly due to the star power. De Niro and Hathaway have shown their incredible acting abilities time and time again, so I figured this was a guaranteed hit. Sometimes I like to be wrong, but this was not one of those times.

The majority of the performances work, specifically De Niro’s. He has taken some poor jobs as of late which have tarnished his astonishing career, but this is not one of those roles. His performance is touching and sweet, as his character gives us a solid backbone to start off with. Rene Russo is also very good in her supporting role, and Hathaway’s performance began to grow on me as the movie progressed. At first I was completely annoyed, but as the layers began to unravel, I liked her character more and more.

The movie’s opening scene, as well as the last thirty minutes of the film, are truly great. The opening is very touching and gives a wonderful introduction to the main character. The final act is also very heartfelt. It has the best storytelling and the best performances of the entire movie, so I don’t know what the hell happened in this middle portion.

From five minutes to about 90 minutes into the movie, the director decided to make this film an extended TV sitcom, with jokes that wouldn’t even make a 6 p.m. CBS special. The jokes are hokey and the script is down right embarrassing, with blatantly obvious conveniences to show how De Niro’s character is such a nice guy. For example, a random desk just happens to be the company junkyard that is overflowing with stuff, so the next morning De Niro does what any good person would do and clean the desk without being asked. It may not sound like a big deal but things like that happened so often that I found myself rolling my eyes constantly. Also, the three stooges that De Niro works with are just not funny. They could be taken completely out and the viewer wouldn’t bat an eye.

I’m not saying this movie needed to be wry of humor. But the dramatic heft and interesting characters made for a much better storyline than the majority of the time when the movie acts like the worst possible episode of “Two and a Half Men” that you can think of (including the Ashton Kutcher era).

This movie also pushes a runtime of over two hours, which is ridiculous knowing some of the dumb jokes and plot points they decided to keep in.

Overall, “The Intern” has solid performances, an interesting premise and a fantastic opening scene as well as a great, somewhat moving conclusion. The problem lies with the entire middle, which feels poorly written, badly unfunny and completely out of place. This movie should not have been a comedy. It should have been a drama with comedy sprinkled in.

It is rare that about 30 percent of a film is great and 70 percent of it is absolutely awful, but that is how I feel about “The Intern.” I suggest watching the opening, going to do something better with your life for about an hour and then coming back for the conclusion.

“The Intern” is a sad disappointment.

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