When a long-time friend and I went to see The Intern on one of my first free days in weeks, I don’t think either of us were expecting the story line the movie went with.
The film follows Ben Whittaker (Deniro), a 70-year-old widower who applies for a “senior” internship at an online retail startup run by the young Jules Ostin (Hathaway).
By the title and tagline of the movie, you’d expect a comedy all about Ben’s struggle to keep up with 21st century technology, working in a fashion-based company and of course, the aspect of being one of the oldest (if not the oldest) employee in the place.
And while there are a few jokes in each of those areas thrown in to add to the comedic aspect of the film, what we really got was some much more deep: a true look into what it’s like to not only be an entrepreneur in the digital age, but also what it means to be a female at the top of the heap in business, and in a relationship.
Jules, to start out, is by no means a bitch-boss. This was pleasing, as typically when women are seen as leaders, they’re shown to be mean or catty, unnecessarily adding to the stereotype that women are inherently not meant for positions of power, simply because they can’t keep their cool. The first thing that struck me about Jules, and this is primarily because I’m a movie addict, is how STARK of a contrast she is to the many of the female bosses we see. My favorite, of course, to compare her to was none other than fashion icon Miranda Priestly, purely because Anne Hathaway shines just as much in The Intern as the did in 2006’s The Devil Wears Prada.
No, Jules is sweet and honest and appreciative of her staff, but the flipside to this is she works so hard for so many hours daily on a growing company company that has become her baby that she’s 1) begun to neglect her health, forgetting to eat and not sleeping enough, and 2) lost valuable time with her young daughter and husband, Matt. This, we’ll get to in a minute.
Jules glides around the office on her bike, managing crisis after crisis, until she’s told by her right-hand-man that the major investors in her company want to bring in a “more seasoned” CEO to offer her assistance. I’d like to note that ALL the CEO’s she interviews, as recommended and approved by her major investors, are male.
While this crisis in her work life is going on, the “senior” internship program has placed Ben with Jules, something she’s not entirely comfortable with. Why? Because he’s too observant, and she’s got “a lot going on.” That “lot” is later revealed to be her cheating husband Matt (Anders Holm – Workaholics, The Mindy Project), a formerly successful marketing executive who quit his job to be a stay-at-home dad when Jules’ company took off.
The roles for Matt and Jules are completely reversed – she comes home and stays up late working, he stays home and attends school functions with their daughter, Paige. At one point, he began a sentence with “I don’t want to sound like the other moms, but…”
So this begs the question – can a woman in today’s world have it all?
Jules finds, like many women, that the moment she becomes more successful than her husband and he resents that, he begins to look for affection somewhere else. And while her hectic schedule and insane work ethic leave little to no time for him and her daughter, there’s a point where you sit down and have a discussion with someone, not cheat on them.
On the same line, would the major investors of her company have reacted the same way if she had been a male CEO/President? Her startup was seeing record profits and new customers, but as happens with young companies, they didn’t think that she and the staff of 220 she had built up could handle the success they had worked so hard to achieve.
The problem, as I’ve mentioned on here before, lies in the stigmas we as a society put on women in power. She has to be nice, but not too forgiving. Firm, but not too aggressive. Nurturing, but not hovering. And attractive, but not too sexual. And above all, we have to make time to do what all good women are supposed to do – settle down, have a family, and take care of our men in every way possible.
Did that make anyone else gag? Not just me? Okay, good.
As someone who’s experienced the problem of running into one too many misogynistic coneheads who don’t seem to understand that women, too, can be leaders, it’s hard to fathom that in ten years or so, when I imagine myself (hopefully) being settled down and ready to start a family, I won’t run into the same issue Jules does. Even now, at 20, I’m out of town or working so frequently that I rarely have time to finish my school work, much less do enjoyable things. Hence why seeing this movie was such a treat!
I’ve been in that situation of feeling like you’re giving all you can to a relationship and it’s still not enough, and, frankly, if someone doesn’t love what you do, than I don’t think they can really love you. And being put in a place where you have to choose between something you’ve worked your whole life towards, and someone who’s supposed to be there to support you no matter what, well, I’m not sure if that’s love at all. But maybe that’s just my inexperience talking.
So now, in the society we live in, it’s not far fetched for someone like me to look at Jules and think “this could be me, if I don’t clearly outline my expectations in a relationship from the start.” And what are those expectations? Well. I think it’s gonna take a little more self-discovery to figure out, but I know one thing for sure. Every strong woman needs a partner – someone who compliments you, not completes you, and who both understands what you do and is proud of your success, not scared that you’ll abandon them or overshadow them by the amazing things you accomplish. It doesn’t hurt if they’re a good gentleman, like Ben, either.
My parents are prime examples of this; a lawyer (Dad) and a political fundraiser turned real estate agent (Mom), and they’ve been together every step of the way, with my dad just as supportive of my mom’s crazy antics now as the day they got married. And for the record, my dad, like Ben, still carries a handkerchief.
But I digress. In Jules’ case, Matt does figure his ish out in the end – I won’t spoil that much for you, but let’s just say I almost started crying in the theatre!
For now, change has to come in the way women are viewed by men in the workforce, unfortunately. My hope is that this generation of women, those raising boys now, will teach them how to respect and understand women who may be more successful than them. They’re the start of the change we want to see.
On a less-serious note, this movie was filled with some PRETTY hilarious moments, as mentioned above. Any time you mix Deniro with actors from newer generations it gets pretty funny, and his interactions with Jason (Adam DeVine – Workaholics, Pitch Perfect) and Davis (Adam Pearlman – The Inbetweeners) are ace. There’s a particular one involving a masseuse in the trailer that had my friend and I laughing pretty hard, and if the scene to the right doesn’t have you rolling by the end, you have no sense of humor.
I kid, obviously.
The Intern is in theaters now, and if you haven’t had a chance to see it, I highly recommend it! Check out the trailer below:
ANDDDDD Bonus video because the soundtrack on this movie was also rockin: