In this movie, Robert de Niro plays his most daunting role ever: a decent human being. I was somewhat amazed that he brought that off so convincingly.
But seriously folks: he plays Brooklynite Ben Whittaker, a widower, a retiree, bored out of his skull. One day a flyer catches his eye: a startup Internet company, a clothing retailer, is looking for "senior interns".
Does he land the gig? Of course. Does he wind up working for the pretty boss lady, Jules (Ann Hathaway)? You betcha. She is initially reluctant about all this, but (this should be no surprise) Ben's basic skills, his savvy, and powers of observation make him incredibly useful around the company. He's a straightener of things crooked, an organizer of things messy, a listener to things that need to be heard, an observer of things that nobody else notices. He is a total mensch, at least to the extent I understand that term. Ben quickly becomes Jules's invaluable assistant, and that works fine until his powers of observation lead him to notice things he definitely doesn't want to know about.
Rene Russo plays a masseuse who—yes, this is a thing—contracts out to companies to wander around the workspace relieving employee stress. How come we never had that at the University Near Here?
The movie is clever and fun. Especially notable, there is not an anti-capitalistic bone in its body. Jules and her company are trying to make a buck, sure; but it's clear that there is nothing wrong with that. They're honest, diligent, and hard-working. Nobody's trying to sabotage the competition, they want to get ahead by being the best they can be.
Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, who's kind of an old pro.