The Intern is the new movie by writer and director Nancy Meyers. It follows widower Ben Whittaker, played by Robert De Niro, who finds that retirement is just not fulfilling without some sense of purpose or feeling needed. So he applies for a senior intern program at a local internet company run by Jules Ostin, played by Anne Hathaway, who created the company just a year before and is now a sensation. The movie is charming and full of poignant themes.
The Purpose of Age
Sadly in America, those of retirement age are seen as past their prime in more ways than one. It’s as though you reach 65 and you’re no longer of use to the rest of the world. The Intern wonderfully shows just how beneficial age is, for with it come experience and wisdom that cannot be replicated without the request years. The retired generation have spent their lives working, supporting families, running companies and gaining knowledge that should be respected, tapped into and revered for the treasure it truly is. Ben’s hard work and years of maturity begin to show their quality and rub off on those around him. It’s a reminder to young and old that retirement does not equal pointlessness or purposelessness, it’s just an opportunity to affect others with the time you have left.
Purpose is something that every human being needs to feel they have, no matter what part of life they find themselves in. Ben struggles with the futility of his activities in retirement and lack of connection with others. Life is meant to be lived with purpose and in community with others and Ben is able to find that in the internship program. He integrates himself into the culture, impacting it for the better thought being himself sharing his worldly sophistication. The sage wisdom he is able to offer those around him is invaluable, making him indispensable personally and professionally.
The Art of Manhood
Look and learn, boys, because this is what cool is. How in one generation have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to…? -Jules Ostin
One of the biggest themes in the movie is the lamentation over the loss of manhood in boys today. Jules asks if maybe when girls were taking part of “Take your daughter to work” days and being encouraged to be they’re best, if boys got forgotten. Now obviously, girls being encouraged to be all they can be is important, but it does seem that boys have been lost in the shuffle. Boys, like girls, need to be nurtured and encouraged to grow and excel. We live in a world where boys don’t seem to become men, they just become larger boys, who now have to worry about shaving. Obsessed with Xbox achievements and porn, the art of manhood is slowly dying.
It shouldn’t be surprising. With so many boys growing up without a strong male role model in their life, they are left to trying to discern for themselves what it means to be a man. As boys look around, there is not much help in the media or popular culture. Long gone are the days of John Wayne and Ronald Reagan where men acted like men and treated others with respect. Now we are awash in narcissistic man/boys who promote the thug life or slackerism. Boys need men to help show them the way to manhood, to model for them what it looks like and the ways to effectively live it out.
This is the beauty of The Intern. Ben shows though is actions the legitimacy of manhood in the world today and the reason it’s needed. And on top of that, he clearly illustrates that chivalry and respect for women are not only compatible but something desperately needed. It’s a call to arms for men everywhere to act like men, respect women and be their for others. Not only are older men needed, they are essential in passing on what it means to be a man to the next generation.
The Intern is not a perfect movie, the ending is a bit abrupt but the themes in the movie are too important to miss. It’s well worth your time, so find a friend, see it with your grandparents or parents and be reminded of the importance of all generations.