The new movie “The Intern” stars Robert De Niro as a seasoned citizen who joins an e-commerce company as, yes, an intern. Turns out De Niro’s Ben Whittaker has something to offer virtually everyone in the office. It’s a heartfelt ode to a generation often cast aside in our culture.
Matt is the personification of so many dads I’ve met over the last few years, particularly those gathered over the weekend in Raleigh for the annual At Home Dads Convention. They’re willing to take on full-time parenting, no questions asked, and they’re crushing it. These dads are smart, driven and focused on being the best parents possible. And they’re also a mite touchy when our culture suggests it’s women’s work to stay home with the children. It’s hard to blame them given their sacrifices and dedication.
What’s depressing about “The Intern” is both Matt’s story arc and the critical reaction to his character.
Roughly two-thirds into the movie we learn that Matt is having an affair. Suddenly, this progressive father isn’t all he appears to be. In fact, it’s clear he feels disconnected with his wife and, rather than do all he can to reclaim their bond, he steps out on their marriage. How … 1978.
Now that affair certainly adds drama to the film’s third act. It also speaks to the stereotype that a stay-at-home dad doesn’t think his job is important enough. He needs … something more, and it doesn’t come from under their roof.
It’s rare to see a stay-at-home dad given so much attention on screen. The lackluster reality show “Modern Dads” tried to give these fathers their well-deserved close-up. The show only lasted a season. So we finally see a truly modern dad on screen, and he’s far from the role model type.
What’s equally interesting is how some film critics are assessing Matt’s character. One dubbed Matt “emasculated.” Another, from L.A. Weekly, hit the same discordant note:
As if that weren’t enough, her seemingly awesome but also undeniably emasculated stay-at-home-dad husband (Anders Holm) may not be staying at home as much as she thinks.
Hmm. Are critics responding to what’s on screen, or are they projecting what they feel about fathers who stay home to watch their children while Mommy goes off to work?
How about it, Dads? Have you seen “The Intern?” Are the critics right … or is this simply one character in a sea of Hollywood stories?