Sunday, April 3, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Movie "The Intern"


My wife and I sat down to watch the video of The Intern last night. The movie stars Robert De Niro as Ben, an aging widower who seeks some fulfillment in life after the death of his wife, and Anne Hathaway as Jules, the founder of a burgeoning online clothing store.

I like both De Niro and Hathaway as actors. Both of them have grown into themselves over the years and produce likable characters, despite some of the scripts they've worked with. (For the record, I never have liked Taxi Driver.)

My purpose in talking about the movie isn't to review it, per se, but to offer some thoughts on the moral themes the movie.

De Niro plays a father figure in this movie, plain and simple. Hired by an up-and-coming online retailer as an intern, he is assigned to Jules, the "difficult" owner of the company. Jules ignores Ben at first. However, he quickly assimilates into the company, then into Jules' life. He becomes a problem solver, a mentor, and an all-around nice guy to many of the employees. The relationship he builds with Jules is kind, sweet, and caring, which is refreshing to see in movies where cynicism usually rules.

I appreciated the relationship between the two main characters. The two become friends and Jules turns to Ben for advice and counsel because she appreciates his age and wisdom. Ben is written, and more importantly acted, as a good person. This makes the relationship with Jules a rare thing in modern Hollywood movies.

Yet, throughout the interactions between Ben and Jules, I couldn't help but wonder where Jules' own parents were. It is obvious that Jules and her mother didn't get along. Jules treats her mother poorly. We never hear about Jules' father. Her parents become distant protagonists by providing another Hollywood-driven model of dysfunctional parenting.

What seemed sad to me was how starved Jules and many of the other office workers seem to be to accept someone like Ben. He helps them navigate difficult social interactions, difficult business decisions, and difficult personal relationships. The movie speaks volumes about the lack of wise, real, honest, and good fathers in people's lives.

In a rare moment of truth, Jules celebrates a rather silly situation (which I won't go into here) at a bar, with Ben and three other employees. In her drunken jubilation, she admits that in the modern "you go girl" society, there is no place for men.

I think the script writer, Nancy Meyers, has hit on a true, modern-day problem - probably accidentally. The common cause of progressive thought has elevated women by denigrating men in general, and white men in particular.

Men have no place in the brave, new world of social justice, of women's choice, or of progressive politics where a Hillary's vagina becomes more politically important than her dishonest and totally corrupt character.

Men try to find a place in such a world. In the movie, Jules' husband becomes a stay-at-home dad and takes on the role and responsibilities of being a mother. This is a classic role reversal, one that Hollywood has pushed for many years.

Yet we sadly note that a dad is not, and cannot be a mom. For example, the story makes a big deal about him playing the part of Ariel of Little Mermaid fame, all the while pointing out how ludicrous that really is.

The writer unwittingly also demonstrates, painfully so, that Jules cannot be a mom either, and makes no pretense of her being a dad. (Remember that men are persona non grata.) The result is a sad, fractured home where we really feel sorry for Jules' daughter who, like children everywhere, tries to make the best of a difficult situation.

The fact that Jules' husband has an affair also points up the bankrupt and cavalier attitude toward marriage held by the Hollywood elite. Jules' pain over the affair, as well as her irrationally accepting attitude toward her husband, only highlights how jaded we've grown over dysfunctional marriages.

It is a shame that we have become so calloused in our attitudes toward marriage and families that a movie such as The Intern reflects the paucity and nihilism of our sick society. The movie is a sad commentary on how far we've fallen in our human relationships.