Reviewed by: John Walker
feeling unfulfilled and bored in retirement
bias toward older workers and elders
value of older, more experienced people
value of mentoring / mentors
difficulties of being a widower
wives and mothers with extremely busy and demanding careers
stay at home fathers
|Featuring:||Anne Hathaway … Jules Ostin
Robert De Niro … Ben Whittaker
Adam DeVine … Jason
Drena De Niro … Hotel Manager
|Director:||Nancy Meyers—“The Holiday” (2006), “Something's Gotta Give” (2003), “The Parent Trap” (1998)|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
Ben (Robert De Niro) is at a lull in his retirement life. He has done those things that most of us desire in our retirement, but seems to feel bored and wants more. He happens upon an advertisement for senior interns at an up and coming Internet retailer, and this is where our story begins. Ben is plopped into the life of Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), the workaholic CEO of the company and reluctant recipient of Ben’s help. It takes time for Ben and Jules’ relationship to gain traction, but slowly these two dissimilar people develop a friendship. Ben takes on the role of tidying up the loose ends in Jules’ life, and, as he is given the chance, begins to contribute to Jules’ personal and business life in beneficial ways.
Ben is an upright guy who tries to share his wisdom and character with the coworkers around him. He works hard, dresses nice, treats people with respect, and, in turn slowly, gains the respect and friendship of those around him. Ben gets involved in a relationship along the way with Fiona (Rene Russo), the company masseuse. He takes on the roles of coworker, chauffeur, advisor, baby sitter, confidant, and friend for Jules.
As happens, when you get involved in someone’s life, Ben sees the flaws, highs, lows and heartaches of Jules’ life. The story leads us to a collision of crises in Jules’ life which involves her choosing a new CEO for the company and a defining point in her marriage. The scene where the resolutions collide is awkward, but allows the story to conclude and ends the movie where it started, more or less.
The movie takes on numerous issues prevalent for those living today. Women, men, their roles, work, family, sex, infidelity, dating, retirement, honesty, friendship, parenting, prejudices, and drinking are the ones I saw. It feels like it doesn’t really take on many of them very well and wraps things up a little too neatly in the end. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy nice tidy endings, but this one did not feel quite satisfying.
The characters are generally “good” people, in our modern day secular sense, but lack the inner convictions that carry them through all aspects of their lives. An example is when Jules inadvertently texts her mother some inner thoughts about her mom, and Ben and his cohorts feel the need to bail her out through illegal actions. It felt like a missed opportunity to face our flaws and wrongdoings by doing instead an “ends justify the means” scenario for laughs (ah, such is the Hollywood way). Ben’s character sleeps with Fiona, and sexual undertones are throughout the movie. Profanity is used throughout, and drinking ranges from casual to all out lewdness and drunkenness.
The big issues that it does take on are fidelity, along with modern day relationships. I get the feeling that the movie wants to pigeon hole the thought of fidelity as men’s problem, instead of one for both men and women to ponder. It paints men as not up to the standard of women, which has its flaws in reason, since infidelity involves a man and woman in the movie. ***SPOILER*** The reason I say this is Jules husband has an affair, and, as they both come to terms with this, I see the “other woman” as insignificant to the story and downplayed, as I feel the director did not want to show this flaw in another woman.
Ben feels misguided and loses his respect when he compromises his character in the movie. I feel that the audience is expected to accept his shortcomings of breaking the law (Romans 13:1-7) and sex outside of marriage (Hebrews 13:4).
The movie also feels a little preachy and tries to shove a feminist slant down your throat while taking pot shots at men, especially the men of the new millennium. It comes up with no real answers and wants to make men feel like it is their fault for failure in marriage.
The fact of the matter is that it has always taken two people, committed to God and each other to make marriage to work. You might say the movie wants us to believe that Jules is having an affair with her work life, and that her husband should be able to live with that. That is not true, and that truth would go for either men or women.
I guess, in the end, Ben becomes Jules’ version of a “guardian angel,” if you will. He lacks the full character of someone who is leading by example or someone who has the consciousness of his own flaws to know and learn from them. He kind of floats into Jules’ life, and, through the time there, takes her from a CEO who feels overwhelmed, to a CEO who is overwhelmed but feels better about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the well-acted story of two very dissimilar people and how they find common ground and become good friends. Just be aware that the story really never takes you to any new places and has no answers.
It is not a movie for children and earns every bit of its PG-13 rating. It is well acted and easy to watch, with a few good laughs thrown in, but never inspires or offers any solutions. I found its language and sexually suggestive scenes a little too far on the offensive side of the fence to recommend it.
Violence: None / Profanity: Moderate to heavy—Oh my G*d (16), Oh G*d (3), God (3), f-word (2), a** *(4), SOB (1) / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.