Larry Crowne opened up a couple of weeks ago and I finally got a chance to see it. I had been looking forward to this one since I saw the first trailer. Tom Hanks is one of those actors that I’ve always liked. Even going back to his Bosom Buddies days. He’s one of those actors that I know I like, but I always forget just how much until I see him in something. Larry Crowne looked like it was classic Tom Hanks.
A victim of downsizing due to the lack of a college degree, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is let go from his position as the superstar team leader from a big-box retail store. Suffering from the weak economy, Larry decides that his only course of action is to enroll in college and try to start over. Upon his arrival, he becomes a member of an eclectic bunch of characters who toodle around town on scooters. Larry decides to enroll in a public speaking class and finds himself crushing on his teacher, Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts). She’s a bit bitter and likes her booze and has lost pretty much all of her passion for teaching and living for that matter. Over the course of the term, Larry realizes that a fresh start is just what he needed.
Re-teaming with Julia Roberts for the first time since they starred alongside each other in Charlie Wilson’s War, this film also serves as another feature film directing gig for Hanks. Aside from his work on Band of Brothers and From the Earth to the Moon, this is the first time Hanks has been behind the camera since 1998′s That Thing You Do. Hanks also served as half of the writing team for this one, along with Nia Vardalos, whose big break came from the Hanks produced comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
While this film hosts two of Hollywood’s brightest stars, it was really a supporting cast member that stole the spotlight. Gugu Mbatha-Raw played the role of Talia. She’s the young co-ed that Larry becomes friends with and is the catalyst for his transformation from Joe Schmoe to hip and happy. Mbatha-Raw absolutely stole the show from the rest of the cast. She’s a fresh face and has an inner light that comes out when she smiles. She’s easy to watch and has a warm, inviting presence.
The rest of the supporting cast is made up of well-known names like, Cedric the Entertainer, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, Wilmer Valderrama and George Takei. It’s really the supporting cast that makes up the what the film’s stars lack. While there was a bit of chemistry between Larry and Mercedes, it wasn’t boiling hot. But then again, I didn’t think it was supposed to be. There was a connection, but both of these characters are going through major changes in their lives. I didn’t see this film being about their budding relationship. I saw it as a film about life’s curve balls and finding a path one didn’t know was there.
Hanks is a competent director and is able to deliver an enjoyable film. His characters all fit their roles in the grand scheme of the story and you want good things to happen for them. Larry’s story of being the victim of layoffs is not anything new in today’s world. He did a great job of conveying the different emotions that come along with type of situation. Despair, fear, acceptance, etc. It’s all there, written on his face.
Roberts does a good job of looking disenchanted, bitter, a bit drunk and a lot hung over. There’s a little bit of explanation regarding her failing marriage, but the film doesn’t give a whole lot of insight into what made it a failure aside from showing the audience her husband’s propensity for porn. She spends quite a large chunk of the film just going through the motions, but once she commits to her life changing decision, her character comes alive. Unfortunately, it happens a bit late in the film and some viewers may find the film boring up until that part.
I can see why a lot of people didn’t like this film or thought it lacked any type of excitement. Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was light, happy and an easy film to watch. Being released in the throes of summer, this film serves as a the palate cleanser to the season’s remaining big blockbuster films. So if you’re looking for your typical summer tent-pole fare, or a by the numbers romantic comedy, Larry Crowne is probably not for you.
Still on the fence about it? Check out the trailer below.Tags: Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Julia Roberts, Larry Crowne review, scooters, Tom Hanks