Some veteran filmmakers try to capture the younger generation and fail to get it right, coming up with characters and faux with-it dialogue that invite lots of "Oh, Mom!" eye-rolling. That's not the problem with writer-director Nancy Meyers's The Intern, in which retiree Robert De Niro finds meaning in life -- and brings lots of twinkly-gruff inspiration to others -- by taking an internship at a Brooklyn-based online clothing company run by ambitious yet dippy businesswoman Anne Hathaway.
Ben quickly makes himself indispensable, doling out sensible advice, business-y and otherwise, to the young'uns. He also wears a suit, which they love -- in one of the movie's best scenes, he gives style tips to a young worker (Peter Vack) who's nervous when he discovers he might be hand-delivering an order to Jay Z. At first Jules is wary of Ben — he's too "observant," she tells her second-in-command (Andrew Rannells) via youth's communication medium of choice, the text message. (Meyers! So with it.)
There's a lot going on in The Intern, but all you have to know, really, is that Ben is rock-solid and Jules is a winsome puddle of insecurity and awesomeness. The spongy subtext of this and every Meyers movie is "We're being serious, but we're also being FUN!" No viewer must ever be made to think too much, feel too much, or be left out. She doesn't so much tell a story as lead a team-building exercise. And it's astonishing to realize that De Niro is as capable as any other actor of slouching through a film like a lump of mold making its way down a tree limb.