By CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE | Published October 2, 2015
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 humor 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 World War II. 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 colored 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 nongraphic bedroom scene between spouses, intermittent sexual humor, 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.
“Black Mass” (Warner Bros.)
This somber fact-based crime drama, adapted from the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, chronicles the rise and fall of notorious Boston kingpin James “Whitey” Bulger (an intense Johnny Depp). Motivated by a misguided sense of ethnic and neighborhood loyalty, a childhood acquaintance-turned-FBI agent (Joel Edgerton) engineers an unlikely alliance between the bureau and the Irish-American gangster, implicitly giving Bulger free rein to expand his underworld empire in exchange for information about his rivals in the Italian-American mafia. As this corrupt bargain spirals out of control, it threatens to bring down not only its creator but his superior (Kevin Bacon), his closest coworker (David Harbour) and Bulger’s wily brother (Benedict Cumberbatch), a powerful Massachusetts state senator, as well. Though the bloodletting in director Scott Cooper’s cautionary tale—with its resounding admonition against using illicit means to achieve valid ends—is often harrowing, it’s generally surrounded with an appropriate sense of dread. Yet, as the story progresses, a note of exploitative excess does creep in, so that even those few moviegoers for whom it can be considered tolerable based on its underlying values may ultimately judge the film offensive. Frequent brutal violence with considerable gore, mature themes, including prostitution, about a dozen uses of profanity, pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Formidable fact-based drama about the disastrous 1996 ascent of Mount Everest by two mountaineering teams: one led by the New Zealand climber (Jason Clarke) who pioneered commercial expeditions in the Himalayas, the other by a freewheeling American guide (Jake Gyllenhaal). Aided by a terrific ensemble and first-rate production team, Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur does an excellent job of conveying the human saga as well as the natural spectacle. The result is a sensitive and powerful movie that declines to apportion blame or pass judgment on anyone. Additionally, the absence of any genuinely objectionable material makes this meditation on humanity’s struggle against the elements suitable for a broad range of age groups. The sacrifices of the local Sherpa guides and the perspective of the Nepalese people as a whole, however, should have warranted greater recognition. Frequent scenes of peril, some gruesome images. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” (Warner Bros.)
When Dracula’s daughter (voice of Selena Gomez) and her slacker of a human husband (voice of Andy Samberg) become parents, the count (voiced by Adam Sandler), who originally opposed but now accepts their mixed union, reverts to his intolerant ways by insisting that their son (voice of Asher Blinkoff) must grow up to be a vampire. Returning director Genndy Tartakovsky reassembles the iconic monsters (voiced by Kevin James, David Spade and Steve Buscemi, among others) who hang out at the hostelry of the title for a weak and surprisingly violent follow-up to his 2012 animated comedy. Parents will find the humor hit-or-miss at best, while the climactic mayhem may well prove too intense for their little ones. Some potentially frightening dust-ups, 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.
“The Green Inferno” (BH Tilt)
Director Eli Roth, who co-scripted this cannibalism-themed horror flick with Guillermo Amoedo, appears to have had the notion of blending commentary about environmental activism with an old, and deservedly abandoned, exploitation motif: the sight of nubile young women (most prominently Lorenza Izzo, Roth’s wife) fleeing bloodthirsty savages. The resulting hacked-up mess, which also features Ariel Levy as a phony Greenpeace-style activist, is a throwback to the worst excesses of the 1960s and ‘70s grindhouse genre. Extreme gratuitous and gory violence, including cannibalism, torture and sexual assaults, racist imagery, full nudity, scatological material, frequent rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.