With Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Andrew Rannells.
A 70 year old man, retired, widowed, living in Brooklyn, is hired by a fashion start up company whose young founder is seen as needing some smoothing touches. Perhaps a senior with seasoning and manners might do her some good.
Robert De Niro plays Ben Whittaker as a man with a closet full of ties and drawers full of pocket squares who gets the chance to go back to work, something that gave his life meaning. At first things are slow. The boss, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) has no use for him, ends up resenting him because he is onto her bad habits. The young people in the office treat him like a foreign exotic animal, with his vintage brief case and self confidence.
Inevitably, Jules grows to depend on Ben, not just for his business acumen, but for what he has to say about her family. In other words, they become friends.
In the process, the movie proposes that work acts as a kind of home. In contrast, home life, as shown at Jules’ and Ben’s carefully styled apartments, is just a resting ground for when ambitious people can get back into the fray and prove their worth. Many of the overworked people, vying to get Jules’ start up to not just succeed but remain stable, lack sleep. A bit of research about sleep and weight gain is remarked on more than once and gets a laugh each time.
I wanted the movie to succeed. The tone of the opening sequences where the young people are shown working in a young people ghetto like atmosphere with absolutely no diversity of age, race, or class seemed to be saying something. It is believable that Robert De Niro could become a guru of younger people, and that there is a a need for younger and older people to work together. I am glad that De Niro keeps working.
But why were the only “senior” women played by a lovelorn Linda Lavin and an incompetent Celia Weston? Rene Russo is ten years younger than De Niro and was used strictly for sex appeal.
An opportunity to show off the humor and wit of the principals on an airplane ride gets thrown away with medium close ups and music instead of the dialogue we are hungry for that might have demonstrated the complexity of the characters.
Other problems include Robert De Niro’s inept practice of Tai Chi, and Anders Holm as Matt, Jules’ husband, in a wimpy performance with hair that seems leftover from the 1970s. Nancy Meyers has good ideas, a great cast, a pretty good rhythm to her scenes, but dialogue that makes you think you are watching a soap opera, or a rough draft of something that needs polish.