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Catholic News Service Movie Reviews

09/30/2015

The Intern
By John Mulderig

NEW YORK (CNS) — Lit by the sunny disposition of its title character, writer-director Nancy Meyers’ generally affable comedy “The Intern” (Warner Bros.) could have provided families with a pleasant, though not especially memorable, visit to the multiplex.

Instead, the needless inclusion of some adults-only humour and the questionable amendments attached to her film’s basically moral agenda raise concerns about this project’s acceptability even for older teens.

Time was when the task of embodying elder wisdom on the screen fell to the members of the so-called Greatest Generation, the children of the Depression who went on to fight in the Second World War. Now it’s 1943-vintage, not-quite-baby-boomer Robert De Niro’s turn to channel sagacity as 70-year-old retiree Ben Whittaker.

Feeling bored and isolated by retirement, sociable Ben enrolls in the internship program for senior citizens set up by Brooklyn-based online clothing retailer About the Fit. Assigned to assist the firm’s hard-driving founder and CEO, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), Ben quickly discovers that his new boss regards him as little more than a nuisance.

That begins to change when Ben happens to spot Jules’ driver having a tipple on the job and discreetly volunteers to take his place at the wheel. As this improvised arrangement becomes more or less permanent, Ben works to capitalize on it by proving his professional worth to Jules.

Widowed Ben’s personal life also takes a turn for the better thanks to the stirrings of romance with About the Fit’s in-house masseuse, Fiona (Rene Russo). Ben’s first encounter with Fiona’s magical hands, however, degenerates into a potentially embarrassing occasion for him that also marks one of the movie’s infrequent but bothersome detours into tastelessness.

In between such regrettable interludes, Meyers showcases the synergy between the creative innovation of the young and the experience-based prudence of their elders, though the means she employs to do so sometimes ring false.

A subplot involving the strained relationship between Jules and her husband, stay-at-home dad Matt (Anders Holm), is ultimately resolved in a way that affirms commitment and fidelity. Yet the dialogue, at least, follows a twisting path before reaching this positive outcome. Though less substantial, Ben’s brief but upbeat memories of his own long-lasting match do serve to reinforce the overall pro-marriage message.

Like a brightly coloured top that wobbles a bit as it pursues its course, mature viewers will find “The Intern” a mildly diverting — if not always reliable — source of passing entertainment.

The film contains a premarital situation, a non-graphic bedroom scene between spouses, intermittent sexual humour, a few rough terms, occasional crass language and an obscene gesture. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

Hotel Transylvania 2
By John Mulderig

NEW YORK (CNS) — “Hotel Transylvania 2” (Warner Bros.) turns out to be a less than ideal spot for a family vacation. That’s because director Genndy Tartakovsky’s followup to his 2012 animated comedy is both light on laughs and surprisingly violent.

In the original, bloodsucker-turned-hotel-keeper Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) was forced to overcome his aversion to humans when his daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) fell for — and wed — mortal slacker Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg). Though the count has since made his peace with this mixed union, the limits of his enlightenment are tested afresh with the arrival of his grandson Dennis (voice of Asher Blinkoff).

Grandpa dotes on the lad — but also insists that he must grow up to be a vampire. (The film’s mythos holds that the boy has only until his fifth birthday to sprout his telltale fangs.) Mavis, by contrast, maintains that she’s indifferent to the outcome, and will love Dennis no matter what.

Illogically convinced that nurture will somehow prompt — or alter — nature, granddad works to cultivate Dennis’ inner vein-drainer. He’s aided in his efforts by the assortment of iconic but mild-mannered monsters who make up his hostelry-based rat pack, Kevin James’ Frankenstein, David Spade’s Invisible Man and Steve Buscemi’s Werewolf among them.

The humour generated by all this, at least for parents, is hit-or-miss at best. As for the little ones, the climactic mayhem toward which the plot builds, though thoroughly stylized, may well prove too intense for their liking or comfort.

Attentive adult guardians may also wonder whether Sandler’s script — co-written with Robert Smigel — is aiming at something more specific than mere tolerance at its most generic. They’ll catch the inclusion of the phrase “lifestyle choice” in the dialogue, and notice the effeminate manner of an incidental character charged with the rearing of youthful vamps.

Do these hints point to anything beyond Tinseltown’s relentless cries of “Vive la Difference!” and “Be Yourself!”? The evidence is slight, but the outline of a possible analogy can be glimpsed.

On a purely aesthetic level, while this weak sequel won’t give moviegoers any bedbugs, they should be forewarned that they’re not exactly checking into the Ritz either.

The film contains some potentially frightening dust-ups as well as mildly scatological images and wordplay. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.

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