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The Intern: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

The Intern (2015) movie poster The Intern

Theatrical Release: September 25, 2015 / Running Time: 122 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Writer/Director: Nancy Meyers

Cast: Robert De Niro (Ben Whittaker), Anne Hathaway (Jules Ostin), Rene Russo (Fiona), Anders Holm (Matt Ostin), Jojo Kushner (Paige), Andrew Rannells (Cameron), Adam Devine (Jason), Zack Pearlman (Davis), Jason Orley (Lewis), Christina Scherer (Becky), Nat Wolff (Justin), Linda Lavin (Patty), Celia Weston (Doris), Steve Vinovich (Miles), CJ Wilson (Mike), Mary Kay Place (voice of Jules's Mom)

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It took a while but Robert De Niro is finally embracing old age. No longer the cop or crook every few months, De Niro is now comfortable playing the old man in comedies like Last Vegas, Grudge Match, and the self-explanatory, forthcoming Dirty Grandpa.
Few actors in their seventies have ever gotten the choice opportunities De Niro still does, like three consecutive opportunities to work with David O. Russell, including the recent Joy. But De Niro refuses to slow down much or be super selective. He savors another leading and titular role in The Intern, a comedy written and directed by geriatric-friendly, 65-year-old Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated, Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want) that casts the much younger Anne Hathaway as his boss.

De Niro plays Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower looking for a little purpose and structure in his life. In between his daily early morning Starbucks runs and his full slate of funerals to attend, Ben has his eye caught by a flyer for a senior citizen internship. After figuring out how to upload his video application and winning over his every interviewer, Ben begins working at About the Fit, a trendy new online clothing business. He is appointed the personal intern of Jules Ostin (Hathaway), the company's overworked founder and CEO who rides a bike around the offices in the name of efficiency.

In "The Intern", 70-year-old Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) becomes the personal intern of hard-working online clothing mogul Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).

Jules isn't crazy about having an old intern or about having it be the attentive and old-fashioned Ben. But she comes to be won over by his generous spirit and his chivalrous streak, as he assumes the position of her chauffeur, knows the quickest routes, and demonstrates the value of in-person communication and acknowledging others.

Both the movie and its workplace evolve from seeing Ben as a hopeless old guy who doesn't know how to wake up a computer to a wise old soul who knows how to dress nice, work hard, and be there for others, be it the young intern needing a place to crash (Zack Pearlman) or Jules, who is reluctantly considering hiring a new CEO to relieve her perpetually swamped status. A decreased workload would also enable Jules to iron out some wrinkles in her marriage to Matt (Anders Holm), a stay-at-home dad she knows is cheating on her.

Of course, you'll know how Rene Russo playing company masseuse Fiona will figure. In Hollywood math, the 61-year-old actress is the perfect age to be a septuagenarian's love interest, which she does in one of the subplots that doesn't particularly go anywhere.

The old guy (Robert De Niro) shares some of his wisdom and experience with his much younger co-workers (Adam DeVine and Zack Pearlman).

De Niro has taken his lumps in recent years for collecting paychecks on projects far below the high standards he maintained for close to thirty years. But he remains a compelling performer in the right part. Surprisingly, Ben Whittaker is the rightest part he's gotten from anyone other than Russell since CIA agent turned suspicious potential father-in-law Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents.
The Intern itself may be downright routine, but De Niro is as sweet and lovable as perhaps he has ever been.

We've seen him play the madman, the ticking timebomb, the warm-hearted but cold-blooded gangster. Here he is just a teddy bear in need of a hug, a relic of an earlier generation whose wisdom has value to the sloppy, scatterbrained twenty- and thirtysomethings with whom he's working. While this film obviously won't join the ranks of the actor's greatest films, e.g. Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, and so on, it does show us a different side of De Niro and gives us more to admire than any recent performance of his but Silver Linings Playbook and Everybody's Fine. And though many have wondered why he says "yes" to so many new movies that fail to ignite, The Intern, believe it or not, gives us some hope that De Niro is capable of more than just rehashing old tricks and playing the old man.

Hathaway, on the other hand, does not show us anything new. She has maintained leading lady status longer than anyone could have guessed after The Princess Diaries and has commanded respect in certain prestige projects, from her brief Oscar-winning hysterics in Les Misιrables to her focal, semi-tolerable turns in two Christopher Nolan instant classics. While nothing she's done suggests she will ever be a great actress, she's at least used her clout passably enough of late, sparing us of too many atrocities like Bride Wars, Valentine's Day, and Love & Other Drugs.

Meyers may not have any huge surprises up her sleeves here. Laughs are few and far between, as the movie shifts from comedy to drama and hardly looks back. The funniest scene sees Ben and co-workers trying to be like the Ocean's Eleven gang on a break-in and e-mail deletion. The closing tai chi scene is downright perplexing. But at least The Intern never becomes the endurance challenge you might expect it to be, given the presence of two of three insufferable "Workaholics" bros and a script that tackily tries to paint the modern man-child as a pale successor of yesteryear's gent (who in this world at least isn't sexist, racist, or intolerant of anything less than drunk driving).

The Intern added to Meyers' strong commercial track record, its $76 million domestic and nearly $200 million worldwide grosses putting it not terribly short of past box office triumphs like It's Complicated and Something's Gotta Give. While reviews were mixed and somehow the movie didn't crack the Golden Globes' Comedy or Musical categories, the movie still arrives on home video today in a DVD and the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here with mildly favorable word-of-mouth and an okay reputation.

The Intern Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

1.78:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Service, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

As you expect, The Intern boasts terrific picture and sound on Blu-ray. The clean, vibrant 1.78:1 visuals are noteworthy for using every available pixel, while the 5.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack does a nice job of distributing Theodore Shapiro's pleasing, traditional score.

Nancy Meyers directs Robert De Niro in the park set of "The Intern." Young actors Jason Orley, Adam DeVine, and Zack Pearlman share their impressions of working with Robert De Niro in "The Three Interns"

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Intern is joined by three short HD extras on Blu-ray.

"Learning from Experience" (4:46) is a making-of featurette which surveys the ideas and demographics Nancy Meyers writes about here.

"Designs on Life" (6:07) explores the Nancy Meyers aesthetic, with many voicing an appreciation for the production design of her films, a topic she apparently gives much thought.

Finally, "The Three Interns" (5:46) celebrates/interviews "Comedy Central fan faves" Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, and newcomer Jason Orley, who play the movie's young goofballs and are expectedly in awe of working with Robert De Niro.

The DVD only includes "Learning from Experience", the most general of the three making-of featurettes.

The black Blu-ray and silver DVD share an eco-friendly keepcase with a Digital HD insert and topped by an ordinary slipcover featuring the same artwork below.

The Blu-ray opens with trailers for Pan and The Iron Giant: Signature Edition, with a promo for digital movies between them. The DVD starts with Pan, Our Brand Is Crisis, and Iron Giant trailers before running that digital movies promo.

The scored static main menu at least offers an image that didn't previously serve as a poster design.

"The Intern" inexplicably ends with Jules (Anne Hathaway) joining Ben (Robert De Niro) at his outdoor tai chi class.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

The Intern squarely meets one's expectations for a Nancy Meyers film, albeit with an intergenerational friendship taking the place of a more familiar romance. This mild-mannered comedy will play best with Meyers' fanbase of older and female viewers, but even those outside the demographic should find it pretty harmless. If nothing else, the movie gives Robert De Niro one of his best roles in a long time and a chance to shine in an uncharacteristic way.

Warner's combo pack provides a nice feature presentation plus an okay handful of extras. While it's not something I see having much replay value, if you disagree, you won't likely be disappointed by this basic but serviceable release.

Buy The Intern from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Learning to Drive • Heist • The Walk • Sicario • Straight Outta Compton
Written by Nancy Meyers: Father of the Bride & Father of the Bride Part II | Directed by Nancy Meyers: The Parent Trap (1998)
Robert De Niro: Grudge Match • Last Vegas • Silver Linings Playbook • Red Lights • Killing Season •Everybody's Fine
Anne Hathaway: Get Smart • Interstellar • The Princess Diaries & The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement • The Dark Knight Rises
Julie & Julia • How Do You Know • Sweet Home Alabama • St. Vincent • Workaholics: Season 1

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Reviewed January 19, 2016.



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