One of my favorite ways to enter into a film-watching experience is with completely neutral expectations. It’s tough to accomplish that, but it helps if you choose a movie you don’t know anything about and for which you haven’t seen any trailers. “The Intern” falls under this category, for me, as it was a suggestion by my mother, and I had never heard of it when I arrived at the theater.
The reason I enjoy having neutral expectations is because I feel that my post-film opinions will be more accurate and less biased. That being said, I greatly enjoyed “The Intern.” Obviously Robert De Niro is fantastic, as is Anne Hathaway, and their chemistry on screen was easy and believable. The characters were intriguing and unique, the story itself was something very different from anything I’ve seen lately, and overall, everything about the movie just worked.
Something I’d like to address is the obvious underlying theme of feminism in this film. Now, as someone who cringes when she reads that word, due to the incredibly vast amount of negative experiences I’ve had with such individuals, I have to say that my feelings toward the many feminist comments in “The Intern” definitely surprised me. I never thought I would come away from a film that I would describe as having an “obvious underlying theme of feminism” and still have a positive view, not only of the film as a whole, but of the expressed views, themselves. On several occasions, I was nodding along with whatever comment was being expressed and muttering to myself “that’s what feminism should look like.” So, aspiring (or already self-proclaimed) feminists, watch “The Intern” and take notes.
For example, one of my favorite scenes in “The Intern” was the bar scene, in which Jules (Hathaway) is having a conversation with Ben (De Niro) and several of the young, male interns/employees from her company. She goes on a bit of tipsy rant about the way our society has begun referring to “girls” as “women” and to “men” as “boys.” She talks about how nurtured young girls are as they grow up, being constantly encouraged about their potential and strength and how they can do anything boys can do. Meanwhile, our young men have kind of gotten the short end of the stick. This is an opinion I’ve had for years, not just in relation to gender, but to any sort of social justice issue that has two definable “sides,” neither of which being better than the other.
For example, thin versus curvy. I was always thin growing up, and I grew up in a family of a lot of curvy people. Right around my teenage years is when the epidemic of promoting curves began. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging a curvy person about her body, but why, oh why, does it have to be at the expense of the opposition? Why have I heard so many men say things like this to curvy women, to boost their self-esteem: “I’d rather have a girl with curves, anyway! You don’t wanna be skin and bones and have no boobs. Gross!” (Yeah, yeah, that’s not how men talk, but you get what I mean.) It’s as if in order to encourage and build up one group of people, we have to neglect and put down the other. That’s just ridiculous. And as women, I think it’s a mindset we really need to work on changing. Think about how many times you’ve felt better about yourself because of someone else’s weakness. Have you ever gone to the drugstore in sweats and felt terrible about your appearance until you saw someone else who looked even worse than you? Can’t you see how sad that is? It’s sad because, firstly, you shouldn’t be judging your self on a comparison scale anyway, because you are 100% unique. There is no one in the world like you, so comparisons are frivolous. And secondly, it’s sad because it reaffirms in our minds the idea that we want other women to fail, to be less pretty than us, to be less successful than us, otherwise we can’t be happy. I think, in general, we all, men and women alike, could use to work on the balance of being able to be happy for someone else (even someone who has more than you) and happy for ourselves at the same time.
Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now. Well, that one, at least. Another reason I enjoyed the scene in the bar so much is because it depicted a self-proclaimed feminist standing up for the rights and privileges of men, which is something I’ve never seen before. Now before I get a bunch of feminists flocking to my door to tell me how wrong I am, I didn’t say it’s never happened; I said, in all of my many personal experiences in this department, I’ve never seen it. It was a refreshing anomaly to see someone who claims to fight for equality (not just women’s rights) actually doing it.
The rest of the film definitely addressed some other feminist-like issues, such as the women at Jules’ daughter’s school judging her for being a working mother (an issue that Ben resolved greatly in an epic moment that made you want to yell, ‘BOOM! Face!” at the screen), but it was all done very well and tastefully. Also, as a… we’ll say “feminism skeptic” like myself, I think the fact that the bar scene was so early on in the film was fortunate. It set the tone for the rest of the film, essentially saying, “Yes, we are going to talk about feminism, but it’s going to be different than what you’ve heard in the past, so hang in there.” At least, that’s what the scene accomplished for me. If you already have positive views of feminism, you wouldn’t need that scene to be able to enjoy the film, but some people might need a little bit of encouragement to get on board.
Another thing I want to address is a bit of a spoiler, so if you’re planning to see this movie and you don’t want to know how it ends, maybe skip this paragraph. There’s a great scene, near the very end of the film, in which Jules discusses with Ben the fact that her husband is having an affair. It’s a sweet, real moment as they sit in her hotel room and talk about the situation. I loved how open and honest she is about her feelings, acknowledging that despite her anger, she feels partly responsible because of the success and responsibility her company has brought, taking time away from their marriage. The writing in that scene is fantastic, because everything she’s feeling is completely relate-able and we feel for her having to admit those feelings aloud. It’s also another great moment for Ben to step in and save the day, reminding her that she shouldn’t have to apologize for the success that she’s worked so hard for, and, more importantly, she absolutely shouldn’t have to apologize for her husband choosing to have an affair.
Overall, I thought “The Intern” was a great film. It had well-established, strong, interesting characters and a story that was real, heartwarming, and easy to connect with. On top of all of that, it goes deeper than just warm and fuzzy by addressing some important, valuable lessons and issues in our society that we have likely all experienced in some capacity. If you’re looking for a way to spend your weekend, try to catch “The Intern” in theaters before it leaves. It’ll be worth it.