First of all: I want what Bob is having! I want to be in that senior intern program!! It looks like so much fun, and it's just what I need, although I'm not a widow and a few years younger than him. Finally, I can get respect and appreciation, I can teach young people a thing or two just by being my interesting, experienced self.
So, here comes the important question: is the plot of the new movie by Nancy Meyers with Robert De Niro, called "The Intern," fact or fiction?
The story is simple yet poignant: savvy senior citizen gets thrown into a pool of badly dressed (the men) entrepreneur baby-sharks in Brooklyn, headed by an overworked young woman (Anne Hathaway) who needs help all the way. Bob the intern is the neat new old guy -- business suit, glasses, groomed hair, shaved face and all. And he got what it takes to make himself soon indispensible -- just by acting natural and "age-appropriate"! Although, a real puzzler is that the dreaded Hollywood "age-issue" is even an issue when it is about age not being an issue. Bob plays a 70-year old -- but in real life, he's 72. Is there are problem?
For me this is a De Niro landmark role, just like the ones in "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull." Of course, as the harmless senior citizen who wins the heart and respect of everybody around him, it is hard to connect the two types of men which have more than once scared us with their volcanic and menacing characters of younger years -- Bob's and ours. But age is an equalizer, for actors, too, like a life-coach of a certain kind.
To show age in an interesting, likeable and vibrant way is apparently one of the biggest challenges -- in life and on screen. God knows, director Nancy Meyers has tried and often succeeded -- especially with such luminous actresses like Diane Keaton and Meryl Streep. But like in real life, female senior citizens and their male counterparts are not the same in the movies. Males have that built-in father-figure aura that adds immeasurable value even to the crankiest old-timer.
So far, I think the British hold the record for showing rich lives and really colorful old and bold people in those legendary comedies and dramas. Compared with British whimsy and wit, "The Intern" is a tad tepid and toothless, which is a letdown and probably confirms pre-conceived notions that many have about that huge part of a population that isn't exactly revered by all, as far as generations go. But Bob saves the movie, and he is a real nice guy in this, it's Bob the Mild, not the Wild - and that is perfectly fine.
To be honest, Robert De Niro had lost me for almost two decades as a fan of his once spectacular acting chops. Completely. The sourpuss face and downturned mouth, the lifeless eyes and the allover joylessness were as hard to watch as the attempts at unfunny humor! But now, Bob has won me over because he is practically himself; or -- that is a possibility, too -- it's just called good acting! But I don't see the strain of an actor's studio approach here.
There is some form of comfort in his natural depiction of a relatively dapper and tolerant elder. And I even like to entertain the idea that Bob actually is that senior citizen privately, maybe even occasionally sitting in a little park close to his neighborhood in New York in a jaunty hat and a beige windbreaker, playing chess with some other crusty old men. Maybe what he's really trying to do is to give us a slice of a life that isn't exactly charmed, but definitely charming; where older people have meaning, still participating in this exhausting modern life, but with a dash of relaxed confidence. And what's even better, who are an inspiration to the -- gasp -- younger folks.
So it would be nice if American seniors could show more sexiness, grit, wit, fabulous hair and cool clothes on screen -- oh, sorry, that would mean casting Jeff Bridges (a proud 65!) instead of Bob. No, seriously, Bobby De Niro is back on the right track. His own. I bet AARP is probably very happy about this movie, too.