Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro bond in a likeable cross-generational comedy
Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway star in a feel-good generation gap comedy from Nancy Meyers (It's Complicated) that manages not to be condescending for the most part. Exploring the burgeoning bond between a 70-year-old widower and a young businesswoman allows for some delightful and amusing observations about our ever-changing world.
Ben Whittaker (De Niro) is feeling bored in his retirement so he applies for a senior citizen internship programme at an online fashion start-up, which he successfully lands with a touching video application about life without his dear departed wife. When he’s assigned to look after the founder Jules Ostin (Hathaway), who's struggling to get to grips with the site's runaway success, she feels uncomfortable at first but Ben soon becomes an asset to the company, acting like a magical Mary Poppins-esque figure for the entire office staff, as he gives fashion tips, romantic advice and teaches those pesky millennials a thing or two about life.
Although Meyers occasionally judges the younger male characters with a withering eye, at one point asking where all the real men like Jack Nicholson (star of her 2003 film Something's Gotta Give) have disappeared to, she does generally veer away from being mean, and instead places focus on the benefits of cross-generational friendships, showing how valuable these can be. A domestic heist involving Ben and his young colleagues working together backs this up, and is a surprisingly hilarious highlight.
The dynamic between Ben and Jules is like a big warm hug. De Niro pulls those comical, knowing faces we’ve all become accustomed to as he provides moral support to his boss in scenes that are sweet without being too sentimental. It is a shame then that Meyers isn’t quite so restrained in her construction of Jules’ relationship with her husband Matt (Anders Holm), rendering it unconvincing and delivering some unwelcome, cloying moments in-between all the lightness and fun.
General release from Fri 2 Oct.