This is one of those warm, unchallenging comedies that's entertaining to watch even though something about it feels vaguely inane. Basically, nothing about it is even remotely realistic; people never actually do or say these kinds of things. But we kind of wish they did. And as writer-director Nancy Meyers makes a series of pointed observations about the value of age and experience, we can't help but wistfully smile and nod along.
It's set in a picturesque mix of old and new Brooklyn, where pensioner Ben (Robert De Niro) has run out of ways to make his life interesting after his wife of more than 40 years died. He's done the travelling, spent time with his grandson on the opposite side of the country, and now he's applying to be a senior intern at a wildly successful fashion website. He's assigned to work with founder and CEO Jules (Anne Hathaway), an overachiever who prefers to do everything herself while her equally astute husband (Anders Holm) stays home with their adorable daughter (JoJo Kushner). Jules is so busy that she barely notices that both her company and her marriage are slipping out of her grasp, but Ben is sharp as a tack, and gently helps her reset her priorities. Meanwhile, he also finds romance himself with the company's hot masseuse (Rene Russo).
Virtually everything in this movie feels comfortable and easy, with conflicts that aren't actually that difficult to manage and side characters who never steal the spotlight from the stars. The only dark shadow in the film appears when Ben discovers that Jules' husband is having an affair, and her reaction nicely sidesteps the usual way movies approach the issue. Otherwise, the film plays along nicely, never ruffling feathers while constantly pointing out how wise old people are, really. Thankfully, De Niro is so relaxed in the role that he avoids sentimentality, effortlessly mixing the comedy and drama. He sparks some engaging father-daughter-style chemistry with Hathaway, who nicely mixes Jules' tough drive with an underlying yearning to get her life back in balance.
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The setup goes a little something like this. Jack's dating Marin (Amanda Peet), the feisty daughter of buttoned-up Diane. During a weekend trip to the Hamptons, Jack's libido loses out to his ticker, and he suffers a cardiac arrest. The local doctor (Keanu Reeves) prescribes plenty of bed rest for Jack, then makes a pitch for the lovely Diane, to her blushing delight.
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It's nothing like the country vibe we were anticipating.
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