Larry Crowne (2011)

Greg Says: Tom Hanks said “Hey Gang, let’s put on a show!”

Title: Larry Crowne (2011)
Rating: 5/10
Date: 2 July 2011
Recommendation: Wait for the Instant Download
Helpful: 5 out of 9 found this helpful.


(Ratings: “See it in the theater”, “Wait for the Instant Download”, “Don’t Bother”)

Tom Hanks starred in, directed, and co-wrote this film (with friend Nia Vardalos “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”). It’s the story of an incredibly likable Larry Crowne (Hanks) who gets fired from his WalMart-type job because he has no degree, and hence no future. He tries to refinance his house but the banker (Hank’s wife, Rita Wilson – who is still hot) turns him down cold. Larry enrolls in a local college where he takes a public speaking course with teacher Mercedes (Mercy) Tainot (Julia Roberts). Larry befriends young classmate Talia (the effervescent, fresh-faced Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Mercy is unhappily married to porn- surfing, self-published Dean Tainot (Bryan Cranston). She takes a disliking to Larry because she thinks he is dating Talia. And our relationships are now set.

Larry makes friends with all the scooter-riding kids at school and they in turn revamp him from a nerd into a quasi-cool guy. They feng-shui his house, his hair, and his wardrobe. Larry is tops in in Dr. Matsutani’s (George Takei) economics class. And he gets wisdom from his neighbor (Cedric the Entertainer) who has a perpetual yard sale going on.

This is almost a text-book case of romantic comedy. Except that as a protagonist, Larry is very non-descript. He has no apparent flaws. He has no strong desires. He seems to move haplessly through the film letting all the swirl of the other characters just happen.

And perhaps that is precisely what is happening. Tom Hanks is (arguably) the nicest guy in Hollywood. It’s like we’re looking in on Tom Hanks breaking in a new crowd of up-and-comers by showing them the ropes in the least-complicated movie of all time. In a lot of ways I felt like this was a call back to the old “Smoky and the Bandit” days when Burt Reynolds would make a film by shooting home movies with his buddies and current girlfriend.

Julia Roberts never disappoints. Her character is very thinly drawn but she adds enough of that Julia Roberts charm to pull it off – those flirty smiles cast casually over the shoulder. But, sadly, she could have played any of a half-dozen characters from her impressive resume and just dropped those performances into the middle of this film and no one would be the wiser. HmmÂ… maybe that’s just what happened?

This is a Nice Little Film. At my theater it was clearly the favorite of the over-fifty crowd. There’s not a lot of meat to it and the major plot turns are easy to spot and not surprising. If you like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, you’ll like this film. And George Takei is hilarious as the economics professor. But save the $10 ticket and just rent it at home. You’ll get the same effect.