Robert De Niro is Ben Whittaker and Anne Hathaway is Jules Ostin in "The Intern." Wed Sep 16 13:54:11 -0600 2015 1442433245 FILENAME: 199156.jpg

If The Intern were to focus solely on Anne Hathaway, it would be pretty dispiriting. As Jules, the founder/CEO of an e-commerce clothing company, her struggle does not go much beyond “Can successful women have it all?” While this conundrum is fairly cliché, it can potentially produce an interesting story. But it is tough for The Intern to do that when Jules’ husband (Anders Holm) is supremely underdeveloped.

Luckily, The Intern instead focuses on the relationship between Jules and Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro), the titular intern. Nancy Meyers’ films are (understandably) criticized for being fluffy wish-fulfillment, but a restless retiree getting hired at a fast-paced new media company is a decent concept. It could easily be screwed up, though, with too much of a focus on “old people don’t understand technology” gags or “why isn’t the current generation like the older generation?!” diatribes. Thankfully, the former disappear after about the first 10 minutes, and the latter are few and far between. Ben proves to be adept at picking up 21st century skills, and he is an excellent employee not because he is old-fashioned, but because he is observant, diligent, and empathetic. He is a paragon of virtue, and De Niro gives an appropriately virtuous performance – his best in a non-David O. Russell film since Meet the Parents.