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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Nancy Meyers

The Intern (2015)

White People: the Movie.

Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has come to a point in his long life where he has to make a decision: Either, sit around and enjoy his retirement, like most men his age do, or, continue to work whatever jobs he can to make something out of the rest of his life? Obviously, Ben goes with the later once he goes in for a meeting with a start-up, fashion-based e-commerce company, for the coveted role as the “senior intern”. Ben, as expected, gets the job and is then transferred over to being the main intern of the CEO, Jules (Anne Hathaway). where he basically does all the work she asks of him. This means that Ben does a lot of driving around, running errands, getting coffee, and just generally, being there for whenever Jules needs him. The two, through their time together, get along, get to know one another, and eventually, start to see how one another can learn from the other’s career. However, Jules’ professional life is starting to get in the way of her personal one and it’s up to Ben to help her get through it – that’s if, he even knows how to.

STOP.

STOP.

Like most of Nancy Meyers’ movies – there’s not much of a plot to go along with the Intern. Basically, we get an older-guy, thrown into a much younger, much quicker work-environment, where it’s up to him to see if he can still hang with today’s generation. That’s basically it. And if you’re like me, you’re already hitting your forehead with the palms of your hands thinking about all the cliches this movie most go through.

Oh wait, let me guess, because Ben is older, he doesn’t know how to technology? Or better yet, because he’s old, he doesn’t understand some of the slang that these young people around him are constantly coining every five-to-seven seconds? Or how about the character of Jules? Let me guess, she’s one of those workaholic types that’s an absolute pain in the ass to be around, but somehow, everybody still sticks with her because her company is just so goddamn successful? And because of this dedication to work, she’s also got a terrible and lonely personal life, with no one else to go home to except her cat Fiffy?

Well, thankfully, I was wrong.

See, Meyers decides to take this movie one step past all of the conventions we expect to get with these sorts of stories, and instead, give us something, although so incredibly happy, light, and pleasant that it’s practically sickening, more realistic and smart. Yes, the Intern is as sweet as a two-for-one deal at Krispy Kreme, but there’s a nice attention to these characters that Meyers presents and highlights as her strength; no longer do her characters feel as if they’re just acting all silly and wild for shit’s and gigs.

Now, her characters, especially with Ben and Jules, seem to be actual, living, breathing, loving, caring, and emotional human beings. Neither one, despite what they may seem like from a first gaze, are types; mostly, they’re just familiar characters that also happen to be very likable. And surrounding them, are even more likable characters that, although not getting the same amount of attention as the two leads, still add their own two cents to a story that, thankfully, includes them to begin with.

But really, this tale is about Ben and Jules and with good reason: They’re strong, well-defined, and have lovely, if somewhat complicated personalities.

Ben may be a bit more easy to enjoy being around than Jules, but even he sometimes seems like he could have some problems of his own. For one, he himself has to do deal with the fact that he is definitely getting up there in age and, in a decade or so, may not even be alive. So therefore, he sets out to actually make something of the time he has left on this Earth, as best as he can. I know this sounds so incredibly schmaltzy and corny, but trust me, there’s enough depth to go along with this character to make him, as well as the situations he gets thrown into, work.

Not to mention that De Niro is quite charming here, showing us a certain happiness we haven’t seen on the screen for quite some time. Of course, whenever he’s in a David O. Russell film, De Niro seems to be as dedicated to the craft as possible, but here, he seems like he’s settling in just nice with this role. However, he doesn’t seem like he’s being lazy or phoning it in at all; his character is just a genuinely laid-back dude who tries to approach everyday, as maybe his last. But he, nor the movie, is cloying about this aspect – you can just tell by the joyful expression placed on De Niro’s face throughout.

FREAKING.

FREAKING.

But really, this is Hathaway’s show to steal and she does wonders with her role as Jules Ostin, the boss of her own start-up company that may be growing to be something bigger, better, and more recognizable. From the beginning, it seems like Ostin’s going to be an incredibly difficult person to be around, let alone, work for, but as we soon see, she’s actually fine to be around. I don’t want to say she’s “lovely” or “great” to be around, because there are times when it seems like she’s strict and slightly mean, but then you remember: Oh wait, she’s the boss of this company. She’s the one who has to keep it running and in order to do so, she’s got to keep a tight ship. Sometimes, that means hurting a few people’s feelings and getting on with your day/life as if it never happened.

Basically, she’s every boss I never had. They were all terrible, evil human specimens.

But I digress.

Like I was saying before about Hathaway, she’s great with this character because shows certain shades and layers to this character that we might not have gotten in another film. That Jules genuinely seems to care about her company, her family, as well as her employees, makes it all the more reason to sympathize with her when she decides to choose one over the other, and then see what happens when she does make those decisions. Sometimes, the ball in his favor – other times, it is not. But always, Hathaway’s Jules stays relateable and above all else, human.

There’s a few scenes that highlight this, but there’s one important one that comes around the end, wherein Jules breaks down about what she wants out of life and how she’s absolutely terrified of it all falling apart. At times, the scene can be funny because of what she blurts out in a mostly serious way, but it’s all revealing and shows just what really goes on behind this character when she isn’t working all day and night. She, like you or I, wants a certain level of happiness and fulfillment in her life and she’ll do anything to make sure it happens – even if, at the same time, that means she loses other meaningful aspects of life. People who dislike Hathaway because of her off-screen personality, will hopefully wake up and realize that even though she may be a bit of a grating presence when she isn’t smiling for the cameras, still can act and work wonders when she wants to.

Consensus: With a smart direction and script from Nancy Meyers, the Intern is an incredibly sweet and charming tale that may be a bit too lovely, but still features character that feel like real people we could meet on the streets, or in the office.

7 / 10

SMILING.

SMILING.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz

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The Holiday (2006)

It’s always those attractive celebrities who need the most love during the holidays.

Iris (Kate Winslet) and Amanda (Cameron Diaz) are both women who seem to be going through the same sorts of problems, even though both live in different countries. The former is from London, and had an affair with a man (Rufus Sewell) who has just recently gotten engaged; whereas the later is L.A.-bound and has a boyfriend (Edward Burns) who cheated on her. They both feel hopeless and upset, and with it being the holidays, they have no clue what to do next with their lives other than sit around, mope, and cry. However, Amanda has an idea that will also affect Iris: She wants to take a trip to London and Iris wants to take a trip to L.A. So the two concoct a plan where they’ll switch residencies for the time being and live in the other’s shoes. This all happens, but what surprises them both is how they end up meeting new people and, believe it or not, start striking up some romances of their own. Iris starts to see a film composer, Miles (Jack Black), whereas Amanda starts to hook-up with Iris’ brother, Graham (Jude Law). Both are happy and enjoying their time together, but the reality is that they’ll eventually have to get back to their real lives, and it’s something that may keep the relationship’s away from being anything more than just “some fun”.

She's attractive.

She’s attractive.

And honestly, that’s all there really is to this movie in terms of complications or tension. There’s no big twist thrown at the end to throw the whole plot and/or its characters into a whirl-wind of chaos, nor is there any sort of hurdle that these characters have to get over in order to make themselves feel fulfilled. It’s honestly just a bunch of hot-looking, attractive people, flirting, dating, smooching, sexxing, and then, oh wait, having to then come to terms with the fact that they’ll be living in separate parts of the world in a few days.

That’s it.

A part of me should be pleased that writer/director Nancy Meyers didn’t try too hard to make this movie anymore complicated than it needed to be. So rarely do we get movies that are literally about, what it’s about, and don’t try to stray too far away from that original-plot. So in that general aspect, Meyers does a fine job of giving the audience, exactly what they’re seeking for.

But at the same time, there still needs to be a bit more of a plot to make up for the fact that this movie is over two-hours long. However, it’s not the kind of two hours that flies on by because of the company the movie keeps; it’s every bit, every hour, every minute, and every second of two hours and 16 minutes, which is to say that it definitely needed to be trimmed-down in certain areas. The main which being the scenes that Iris has with her older neighbor (played by the late, great Eli Wallach). Don’t get me wrong, these scenes are nice, charming, and sweet, but as a whole, they don’t really add much to the final product; we just sort of see that Iris is a kind, loving and caring gal that’s nice to old men.

Once again, that’s it.

The scenes that she has with Jack Black’s Miles, tell more about her, her personality, and the kind of lover she is – the scenes she has with Wallach, thankfully, do not. However, Winslet, as usual, is as lovable as she’s ever been; it certainly helps that Iris is a strong-written character to begin with, but it also has to do a great deal with the fact that Winslet can handle both the comedy, as well as the more dramatic-aspects of the script, whenever she’s called on to do so.

He's attractive.

He’s attractive.

Diaz herself is quite fine as Amanda and also does the same as Winslet does: She balances out both the heavier, as well as the lighter material well enough to where her character stays consistent with the movie’s emotions. It’s not a huge shocker to know that I’m not a big fan of Diaz, but she’s actually quite enjoyable to watch here, because she doesn’t always over-do her act. Her character may be a bit stuck-up, but that’s the point; to see the cracks and light in her personality shine through, makes her all the more likable and sympathetic, regardless of where she comes from.

But this isn’t just a lady’s affair, because the men who do show up, also give their own, little two cents to make the Holiday work a bit more than it should. Black isn’t as grating as he usually is, and Law, the handsome devil that he awfully is, also shows certain layers deep inside of a character that could have probably been as dull as a box of hammers. Thankfully, he isn’t and it helps the relationship that his character and Diaz’s strike-up.

Problem is, though, it’s that run-time.

Also, not to mention that the movie doesn’t really make any reason for its existence. There are a few occasions where it’s funny, but for the most part, it’s just particularly nice. Nice does not mean “funny” – it just means that the movie can be seen by practically all audiences, regardless of age. Nancy Meyers always makes these sorts of movies and while they may not necessarily be lighting the world on fire, they’re just pleasant enough to help any person watching, get by. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man, a woman, a kid, an adult, a senior citizen, gay, straight, bisexual, married, single, widowed, engaged, in a “it’s complicated“, or whatever. All persons from all walks of life can enjoy a Nancy Meyers movie.

That alone does not make them amazing pieces of film – it just makes them accessible.

Consensus: With a likable cast and fluffy-direction from Nancy Meyers, the Holiday is fine to watch and relax to, even despite it being way too long, and feeling as such.

5.5 / 10

Aw, bloody hell! They're all attractive!

Aw, bloody hell! They’re all attractive!

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

Being Jack Nicholson has to be awesome.

Sixty and still sexy, Harry (Jack Nicholson) is having the time of his life, wining, dining and bedding women half his age. When he agrees to go to the Hamptons with his girlfriend (Amanda Peet), plans go awry when her playwright mother, Erica (Diane Keaton), stops in unannounced. While the living arrangements are awkward at first, Harry soon discovers there’s nothing wrong with — and plenty good about — acting your age.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers is known for her usual, old-school rom-coms such as It’s Complicated, The Parent Trap, and What Women Want among others. Out of all of those ones I’ve seen, none have really been amazing but still fun which isn’t something I could say for a lot of other rom-coms that come out just about every Friday.

The film has a good balance of comedy and drama which starts off very well in the beginning of the film. It’s more a comedy of manners, where people say certain goofy things, they wouldn’t normally say so there is that sort of nervous laughter thing going on but it still works and actually had me laughing.

The romance aspect of this film also works well too because it actually has a little sweet tone to it, that is even better because of the smooth pace this film is given. However, the whole charm and sweetness of this film doesn’t run on forever, and soon starts to fall down the “cheesiness-ladder” quicker and quicker than I expected. There are moments that feel way too over-dramatic, which is something I expected from this chick-flick but come on, it got to be a little too much at points.

There is a scene where these two have sex and after wards they both start to cry, which at first, I laughed because I thought the film was doing a joke or trying to be humorous, until I realized that the film was serious when it showed these two grown-ups crying after a little session of doing the dirty. This had me unintentionally laughing as well as the ending, which feels way too over dramatic and heavy when it’s compared to the beginning and how this film first started off.

It also looks as if it was made on the same set as those really cheesy and lame soap commercials where they show somebody just running down the beach with their “man”. This wasn’t a total bother, I could just tell that the whole set was a little too bright for me and I found it a little hoaky to begin with.

When it comes down to it though, Jack & Diane can act. Jack Nicholson is the total man as Harry Sanborn, this old playboy who doesn’t date over 30. He’s the man in this role and almost every line is just totally charming because it has him saying the lines. I don’t even think he really needed an audition, he just got the part as soon as he said yes. Diane Keaton is also very good as Erica Barry, a woman who hasn’t been in “the game” for quite some time and is brought back into it by Harry. Her performance is also great because she finds a way to balance out that cuteness, hilarity, and that endearing real soul behind her character and shows that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still be a fine and sexy lady. Their chemistry is great and it’s just total fun to see these two together on-screen.

Consensus: Something’s Gotta Give has two great performances from Nicholson and Keaton, as well as some funny and sweet moments, but feels overly dramatic and has scenes here that may seem unintentionally funny, depending on how you look at them

7/10=Rental!!

It’s Complicated (2009)

Could not put that disturbing poster of Alec Baldwin and his chest hair, just too disgusting.

Ten years after their divorce, Jane (Meryl Streep) and Jake (Alec Baldwin) enjoy an amicable friendship. When the two unite for their son’s college graduation, their romance is rekindled. But Jake is married, and Jane’s architect, Adam (Steve Martin), has a thing for her. Now cheating on the younger woman for whom he left Jane, Jake wants his ex-wife back. But Jane’s busy getting to know Adam.

The movie is directed by Something’s Gotta Give director Nancy Meyers, who once again shows that she can make these bitter-sweet romantic comedies with a cast that just seems way too old.

The film isn’t funny all the time as the trailers and previews would have you guess. More of the film is actually dedicated to some good played out dramatic scenes. In it’s mellow, observant way the film hits some good notes with authentic feeling.

The main theme here is basically about getting old, and if ever loving again. Looking back on your life if and when your 60, and thinking if you did everything right in your life, and if you can go back and change it once and all over again.

My main gripe with Meyers is that I feel like her feminism plays too much of a part in this movie. Jane has pretty much the perfect life before the movie starts in my eyes. She owns a fantastic bakery, has a huge house, is having an affair with her ex while dating a man who is so sensitive he actually states that her age is his favorite thing about her, and has all too perfect kids. There is actually a scene where all the children (including the son) gather around and huddle up on the bed crying about their mother and father possibly getting back together. They are always trying to help their mother and everyone knows that kids aren’t really like that.

While the first act of this movie is phenomenal, the second act is just ok, and the third act completely falls flat. The first act is so great because it’s mainly Jack and Jane rediscovering their love and the hilarious circumstances that ensue. Once the Adam character came into play, I felt the movie went downhill. It tried to hard to become a romantic comedy when it should’ve just maintained its course and become a full-on raunchy sex comedy about older people.

Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin made comedic gold every single time they are on screen together. The scenes with them are just genuinly funny as anything and make this plot even funnier. John Krasinski is also in this film, who much to my surprise steals the show every time he has a line and plays it real well. Steve Martin isn’t quite given much to be his funny, cooky self we are used to him being, and I was a bit dissapointed. Though we get to see him one scene going back to his old ways, it doesn’t stay like that.

Consensus: It’s Complicated can be kind of a complicated movie to get through at points, but has great performances from its cast, and some genuine funny and also heart-wrenching scenes.

8/10=Matinee!!!