This is What Cool Is

“Retirement is an ongoing, relentless effort in creativity. You can try yoga, like to cook, bought some plants, took classes in Mandarin. Believe me, I’ve tried everything. I just know there’s a hole in my life and I need to fill it… soon.” Ben Whitaker, “The Intern”

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Theatrical release poster

The Intern” was released on September 15, 2015.

“The Intern” is the story of Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro). Ben is a 70-year-old retired businessman and widower who wears suits and believes the greatest tragedy in the next generation is that they no longer use or know what a handkerchief is for.

For those of you who do not know, the handkerchief is carried to be offered to a woman: whether she is crying or just needs a tissue. “It is one of the last great acts of chivalry” as Ben says.

Ben has lived in Brooklyn New York all his life but he feels he might not be hip enough to live in Brooklyn anymore. Ben is nowhere near slowing down and still has much life left in him– he just wants to be needed again.

We first meet Ben while he is making a recording of himself in preparation for an interview for a senior internship position at “About the Fit,” a new start-up online clothing company.

This isn’t a college senior position but a position for seniors in life. Ben jumps at this opportunity for a number of reasons. First, as a 70-year-old retired businessman and widower, he has out of things to keep him occupied. Second, he feels bad for visiting his children and grandchildren all the time. Third, and probably most important, he just wants to feel needed.

Throughout the interviews, Ben is loved by all and is quickly hired and is made the personal assistant of Joules (Anne Hathaway), the starter and owner of “About the Fit.”  Joules is a woman who is consumed with making sure her business is both fair and right: for both its employees and customers. There are no offices, everyone works on the same floor, and Joules even takes customer service calls.

But she is very disorganized.

She is late to almost every meeting and has to hold multiple meetings at the same time just to make everything happen in a day. This crazy schedule keeping makes some of the shareholders think that Joules should get a CEO. Joules is appalled by this idea, but she decides to try and make it work and meet with CEOs. She also is not a big fan of the Senior Intern Program, nor having her own personal intern.

Bens and Joules’ relationship starts out very rough. Joules doesn’t assign Ben any work, and what had started as a dream internship becomes almost a nightmare.

After the first day Ben “makes it happen” he starts to be the office’s intern: helping deliver packages, giving some business and personal advice to his colleagues, and making sure the often neglected things, like the cleaning of the business junk table, are taken care of.

Many seniors struggle to find employment due to age-based discrimination.

As the film progresses Ben begins to drive Joules to her meetings and to home and their relationship begins to flourish and blossom. Joules begins to look to Ben for business advice and Ben is able to be a help in running a new company.

If you like meaningful films that make you both laugh and cry then “The Intern” is your film. From mock “Ocean’s 11” scenes to meaningful conversations about decision making and life choices, “The Intern” has all the jazz and hipsternesss that Brooklyn has to offer. And there is a wonderfully loving 70-year-old man at the center of it all. As Joules said when talking about Ben, “Look and learn, boys. Because if you ask me, this is what cool is.”