There are three types of mainstream Hollywood movie. Toss away these silly ideas of ‘genre’ or ‘style’, or this common misconception that there’s an unlimited variety of films, ranging from romantic comedy through to apocalyptic sci-fi – That’s simply wrong. There’s only a mere trio when it comes to the motion picture industry: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Good can be judged by how much money it makes – observe Marvel Studios’ achievement in bagging over a billion bucks in a single blockbuster – or the quality of the script – if you didn’t cry when Simba’s father died, your heart is made of stone. Then there’s the bad, which is fairly self-explanatory: ‘Battlefield Earth’, ‘The Last Airbender’ and ‘Sex Lives of the Potato Men’ can call themselves proud honorary members of this elite squad. The ugly, however, is an entirely different ball game.
The big screen can make you laugh out loud, weep in despair or dance in the aisles with relative ease – That’s just one of the fundamental joys of the movies. However, an apparently superb chunk of cinema can tick all of these boxes, yet still be considered ugly. Director Nancy Meyer’s ‘The Intern’ is polished, relaxed and without doubt the perfect way to spend an otherwise plan-less Sunday afternoon. Anne Hathaway expertly plucks your heartstrings like an emotional harp as fashion website founder Jules Ostin, while seventy two year-old acting veteran Robert De Niro cues more ‘aaww’s from the audience than a basket full of kittens fashioned in bowties. Unfortunately, despite succeeding to a three star standard across the board, I’d forgotten the overplayed plotline and undistinguished characters within an hour of hopping on the train home. This is why Warner Bros’ new release is ugly.
While De Niro gives a fresh, inspired performance as a retired widower looking to reinvigorate his life, Hathaway’s over-stretched, over-worked woman-of-the-world role seemed to lack novelty. Whenever De Niro dominated the screen, I convincingly knew him as Ben Whittaker. During Hathaway’s time in front of the camera, she was just that: Anne Hathaway. Although not a role in which she could exercise as great a degree of acting prowess as her oscar-grabbing half hour as Fantine in ‘Les Miserables’, or the graceful White Queen of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, I was longing for a sprinkle of something more unique. In many ways, this familiar feel to the film was reassuring, giving the two hours a smile-worthy ‘Devil Wears Prada’ vibe. On the other hand, the recycled backdrop and slow pace did cause the odd wristwatch glance from cinema-goers around the halfway mark.
By no means is Meyer’s ‘The Intern’ an unenjoyable movie, it’s just not memorable. Perhaps our hopes were too high and, as The Guardian put it, ‘it isn’t as if Meyers writes dialogue like Oscar Wilde’. With a directorial history of ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ and ‘What Women Want’, it was never going to be Shakespeare, but regardless, ‘The Intern’ is a great way to kill time in a darkened room without having to talk to people, provided you have nothing better to do.