Can this really be Robert De Niro talkin’?
‘YOU TALKIN’ to me?”. “You talkin’ to me?” Though these unforgettable words were improvised by Robert De Niro when he played Martin Scorsese’s angry Taxi Driver, I longed for him to steal or at least plagiarise them for Ben Whitaker, the aged intern he portrays in Nancy Meyers’ new film.
When you think of De Niro he is a godfather, a deer hunter, a boxer and a goodfella, but a retired executive widower working as a personal assistant to an up-and-coming fashion dotcommer? Not so much.
Not that De Niro can’t do rom-com, but when he does he is better playing the tough guy who meets the Fockers and not the balanced senior from a bygone age who has to play dad to all the beardy guys who work in the hip start-up firm of Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) .
Nancy Meyers has made some great films that I have adored, Baby Boom, Father of The Bride and Something’s Gotta Give being three, but the basic premise of this one is flawed as I have yet to hear of a trendy hi-tech company hiring retirees as interns, regardless of their expertise. They are usually the first to go.
Despite the implausible notion, Ben gets the job and though he is initially regarded as being out of touch, soon wins Jules over with his dedication and versatility. Jules meanwhile is struggling to balance work and home and soon has Ben chauffeuring her as her driver is a drunk, and minding her daughter during which time he notices that her husband (a non-part for Anders Holm) is having an affair. Rene Russo — who I have never liked — turns up as the company masseuse and becomes Ben’s love interest and Hathaway — who I like a lot —is reliably happy and tinkling until she cries about her philandering husband and work pressures. Pleasant just about covers it, which is not something I ever remember saying about a Robert De Niro film.
Pleasant: Robert de Niro and Anne Hathaway in