ALISTAIR Harkness reviews the rest of this week’s big-screen releases
The Intern (12A)
Directed by Nancy Meyers
Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo Rating: ** In The Intern, Robert De Niro plays a widowed retiree who successfully enrolls in a senior citizen internship programme for an internet start-up and finds himself assigned to Jules (Anne Hathaway), the overworked owner of an online clothing business.
With no time in her busy-busy schedule to eat, sleep, see her kid, or even Netflix movies with her not-quite-as-perfect-as-he-seems stay-at-home husband, Jules seems like she’s perpetually on the brink of a full-on blub-fest, which is really just a sign that you’re watching a Nancy Meyers movie.
The writer/director of What Women Want, Something’s Gotta Give and The Holiday certainly seems to specialise in making movies that pay lip service to the idea that women can be strong, capable and independent, but are actually more interested returning to an old-fashioned world of chivalry in which they can rely on men to come to their rescue when the going gets tough.
This happens in The Intern as Jules finds herself under pressure to hire a man as her CEO (it apparently hasn’t occurred to Meyers that women can be CEOs too). Unwilling to cede control, she finds herself instead leaning increasingly on Ben, whose wisdom, kindness and endless supply of handkerchiefs prove a godsend when her life starts spinning further out of control.
Though, mercifully, there’s no romantic connection between Jules and Ben (Ben’s love life is instead reinvigorated via a dalliance with the company masseuse, played by the slightly more age-appropriate Rene Russo), their relationship has all the hallmarks of an opposites-attract romcom in which he still gets to be the knight in shining armour and she the simpering damsel in distress.
It’s irksome in the extreme, made worse by needless, running-time-expanding deviations from the plot. Of course, the contrived nature of the set-up is also designed to show how we all have worth and value, regardless of our age and gender. Alas, even this worthwhile message is undercut by the film’s cutesy conception of an internship as a somewhat benevolent, socially inclusive corporate outreach scheme, as opposed to, say, a source of free labour and expertise.
Ghosthunters on Icy Trails (PG)
Directed by Tobi Baumann
Starring Milo Parker, Anke Engelke, Bastian Pastewka Rating: **
Based on a series of books by German fantasy author Cornelia Funke, this low-key family adventure might please undiscerning eight-year-olds willing to overlook the stilted dialogue, ropey effects and derivative storytelling. Milo Parker (last seen in Mr Holmes) stars as the Potter-esque hero, a put-upon youngster scared of the supernatural who nevertheless befriends an “Averagely Spooky Ghost” called Hugo and agrees to help him and an old school ghost hunter called Hettie (Anke Engelke) eliminate an “Ancient Ice Ghost” that threatens their existence. Though the performances are passable, this is pretty underpowered stuff, especially at a time when there are better kid-friendly blockbusters out there.