The Intern: A Mediocre Film that Relies on Generational Stereotypes

This is the trailer for 2015 film The Intern. Let’s be honest here – it’s a pretty shitty movie. The characters aren’t intriguing, the storyline is predictable, and from the list of films that the Cathay Pacific flight I was taking offered, I was regretting picking this one about a third of the way through.

What’s the movie about? Basically, 7o-year-old retired widow Ben sees an advertisement for a senior citizen internship program at a fashion start-up, applies, and gets the job.

Robert De Niro
Image from Warner Bros

He’s assigned to be the personal assistant of Jules, the CEO of the company who’s also a mother.

Image from Ace Show Biz

Majority of the film is set in the office of the start-up, About the Fit, so we really get to see some of the differences in the work habits among the generations. Ben is, of course, a baby boomer, and Jules is from Generation Y. Needless to say, their attitudes in the workplace are very different.

The Intern falls flat both in the eyes of general viewers and film critics (with an unimpressive score of 51% on Metacritic). I personally didn’t enjoy the movie much, because it took the stereotypes of the two generations way too far. Ben is a generic baby boomer, traditional and incredibly old-fashioned. He worked at a telephone book printing company in his day, has trouble setting up his email account and insists on suiting up for work even though he’s told a couple of times that he really doesn’t have to. Jules, though tough, is a likable boss. Although she is in charge, there’s no clear hierarchy in the company. The start-up she runs, providing customized clothes to clients and delivering them to their doorstep, is not unlike the trend of many goods-cum-service start-ups in which personalization, so everyone can feel at least a little special, is emphasized.

Image from


If anything, at least the film demonstrates that one generation is not better than the other. Ben and Jules are both stubborn as hell characters; Ben insists on leaving the office on the dot at the end of each day, even if all his work is done and his co-workers are long gone. Jules is pressured to find another CEO for About the Fit, but has trouble letting go though she knows it would mean being able to spend much more time with her family.

I’m sure there are better movies out there that show the quirks and habits of different generations in a multi-dimensional, non-generic way. These differences are interesting because they reveal how much we as social creatures soak up the dynamics of the environment we grow up in and how hard these characteristics are to shake off. They also shed light on how the idea of a ‘desirable’ ethic has changed.

It’s a shame that The Intern isn’t able to present these differences in a more enlightening way, resorting instead to stereotypes. I’m still on the lookout for a film that does a good job with this topic and will report back when I’ve found one.



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