The Intern (60%): Ah, just what the world needs: another fairy tale homage to first world problems. The Intern does dare to ask the big question: Can women have it all? Can they build a company, raise a family and remain feminine all at once? Of course, the filmmaker doesn’t bother to proffer any real solutions. Instead, the movie centers on a platonic pairing of a Millennial striver with a baby boomer flameout. Jules, a micromanaging eCommerce CEO, must balance puerile staffers and unruly investors with a lecherous husband and precocious daughter. And Ben, a widower who once presided over a printing company, is struggling to find purpose in retirement. So Ben pursues a senior internship at Jules’ firm, where he is quickly befuddled by a world of entrepreneurial chic embodied by office masseuses, and business casual attire.
Sure enough, Jules befriends the dapper Ben, who is always quick with a handkerchief and a wise aphorism to pull Jules back from another contrived emotional brink. Think of The Intern as Ward Cleaver meets Gloria Steinem, where a suit-and-tie company man magically calms his manic pseudo daughter in the spirit of Father Knows Best. Yeah, this flick makes Star Wars and The Avengers look like feminist tropes. Not to mention, it glosses over the generational and gender conflicts that would undoubtedly test the bond between Jules and Ben. Forget dialogue: The Intern is a string of monologues that are ‘full of sound and fury and signify nothing.’
Then again, if you’re seeking an escapist popcorn melodrama where wrenching conflicts can be wrapped up in easy answers and tai chi, then The Intern is your movie. Expect to see it debut on the Hallmark channel at any moment.
Joy (58%): Unlike Jules, Joy doesn’t need a man to save her. She is a working class badass who’s too busy refereeing family squabbles to even think she could have it all. So it’s no surprise that she comes up with her breakthrough idea –the self-wringing mop – while cleaning up someone else’s mess.
Based loosely on the story of QVC darling Joy Mangano, Jennifer Lawrence’s Joy tracks the journey of an unlikely inventor who fought the power – as a single Long Island mother no less. On her way to becoming a self-made millionaire, Joy experiences hardships that would make for a hearty MBA case. She signs contracts without fully considering the repercussions. She faces delays in production and accumulates massive debt. Competitors pilfer he patents. Her pitch falls flat on live TV. Of course, she trusts the wrong people. Despite her squabbling and skeptical family, this long shot turns into a rags-to-riches Cinderella who breaks out thanks to her spunk and grit. When Joy gets knocked down, she bounces right back up. When she makes mistakes, she learns from them. Most important, she follows her vision. When it comes to making her pitch, she knows that clothing and hand gestures are a stale substitute for warmth and spirit.
That said, no victory is permanent in the startup world. Today’s destination becomes tomorrow’s pit stop. New threats emerge. And old friends sometimes turn into rivals. In Joy, you get to see that one moment triumphant moment, when preparation, perseverance and pluck converge. And it leaves you with a hope that you too can someday savor such a moment.
What was your favorite business movie this year? What lessons did you learn?
DON’T MISS: TEN MOVIES EVERY BUSINESS STUDENT SHOULD WATCH