Movie Review: Larry Crowne
July 4, 2011
There is something nice about getting out of your own life and visiting someone else’s for a few hours. Larry Crowne is a nice enough getaway, but I just don’t feel like it got far enough away. With subjects such as the layoff of a good man, a teacher who drinks quite a lot for her stature, and an unemployed writer who has a penchant for porn, this film has some fairly sad and serious undertones. Yet with Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks leading Larry Crowne, it can’t help but be a feel-good story, concluded by an oh-so-predictable romance (which the previews blatantly give away).
In Larry Crowne, an unfavorable economy lands the title character, played by a surprisingly youthful looking Tom Hanks, a pink slip from a big-box store due to his lack of a college education. Crowne is forced to reinvent himself, newly jobless and still stinging from a bad divorce (from a phantom wife we never meet), left with a too-big house in the suburbs. So, as many Americans here in the real world have tried to do, he goes to community college to increase his marketability and takes a job as a line cook in a diner to pay the bills. He’s entirely too likeable, upbeat, and confident. Which is needed, as it turns out, to handle his love interest.
Enter the oft-hung-over Ms. Tainot (pronounced Tay-no), brought to life by Ms. Julia Roberts, a public speaking professor in need of a life makeover herself. Her job seems thankless as she demands care from her students. We learn that her husband is a writer who is out of work and surfing blogs (and scantily clad women’s websites). Tainot handles her life with margaritas. If it weren’t for the fact that Julia Roberts plays the tippling Tainot, this character would have merely an ounce of redeeming quality in her sense of humor.
The two make nice foils for one another, and watching their relationship work its way around the supporting cast and situations makes for an agreeable, if formulaic, movie. The community college for self-discovery setting is one that co-writer Nia Vardalos favors (see My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and it works here. The student/teacher relationship is not new, but more digestible in this case because there is no alarming age discrepancy.
The best part of the film for me is George Takei as the Econ 1 professor. Listening to his laugh is like drinking lemonade on a summer day in the desert. Cedric the Entertainer is amusing as Crowne’s neighbor, and the college buddies Crowne develops are sweet, though one-note. Wilmer Valderrama (from That 70s Show) brings a splash of humor as do the cameos by comedian Rob Riggle and Rita Wilson (Mrs. Tom Hanks). Who better to help you to a cup of complimentary coffee than your real-life wife? The way Tom Hanks says “spectacular” is good for a giggle as well.
For a summer movie without any real blockbuster potential, Larry Crowne has a well-rounded cast. And a few good laughs. On the whole, it is not a bad film, but one best left to Netflix.
Miranda Foresman is the film critic for CalCoastNews.