Review: Larry Crowne

by Ty Landis

Tom Hanks, the lovable and charming guy that he is, has a hand in almost every aspect of this film, and that’s the film’s biggest problem. Hanks, playing the titular character, is also the co-writer and director here. It’s a familiar little premise, and if you’ve seen the trailer you’ve essentially seen the entire film. Larry Crowne is a middle-aged man whose been recently let go from his retail job due to corporate downsizing. His superiors inform him that his lack of schooling is the reason for him being let go.

Larry, who served in the Navy for 20 years, and is now separated, must fend for himself in the harsh world of unemployment. Fortunately for him, it isn’t very hard, as the film plays out in a continuous cycle of winning moments for Larry. It’s a romantic/comedy without the slightest hint of commentary on the recession and how it truly impacts lives. Not that it’s crucial, but we get little info on what Larry intends to do with the degree he’s seeking. He’s instructed to take communications, composition, and econ, and then he’ll be on his way!

Hanks and co-writer Nia Vardolos (the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding) place too much stalk on the names of Hanks and co-star Julia Roberts, who plays Larry’s snippy college professor, turned love interest. This time to no surprise, their chemistry and charisma as actors does little to get the audience through this fraud of a story. Right after Larry gets let go, he’s immediately in makeover mode, as a fellow student named Talia (Mbatha-Raw) suddenly takes interest in him as she invites Larry into her scooter gang. It’s hard not to roll your eyes at the notion of a younger, stunning female wanting anything to do with Larry. This is unfortunately how the entire film plays out, as the screenplay interjects few, if any internal/external struggle in Larry’s world.

Roberts’ character Mercedes is however a tad more complicated, but more or less has zero character arc like Larry. She’s in the middle of a failing marriage with Dean, played by Bryan Cranston. Even he can’t add any flavor to this vanilla film, serving as the half-written “male-pig” archetype. She drinks because of her apparent disdain for teaching, and we’re almost shocked to learn that a character in this film has flaws. Everyone outside of Roberts doesn’t swear, smoke, drink, and pretty much all of the above.

By now you get the point, Hanks’ sunny, no-worries lifestyle has obviously bled right onto the screen here, and while some of it is agreeable and tolerable, the film would have you believe that life is as easy as the one Hanks leads. The classroom stuff is all lightweight fodder, the film even throws in the token “class clown” character. Not really sure what Hanks was out to prove with this one. That he’s competent behind the camera? Or that he’s still got the so-called charm that made him who he is? I don’t really care enough to answer my own question, it’s nowhere near the worst film of the year, and should do well in the 50 and over demographic, but a film this lifeless will be forgotten the minute after you leave the theater.

55/100 - Larry Crowne is all fluff and zero struggle, proof that Hanks’ own life has bled right onto the page and screen. It’s harmful, lightweight stuff that will be forgotten the moment you leave the theater.

  • Dan O’Neill

     I liked this one because it had its heart in the right place, and the chemistry between Hanks and Roberts kept me enjoyed. However, I won’t lie when I say that this is heavily flawed, but not unwatchable by any means. Good Review! Check out mine when you can!

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