#139 / 365 – ‘Larry Crowne’ – 98 mins
Cinema Challenge #56 / 115
Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he’s worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, Larry heads to his local college to start over. There he becomes part of a colorful community of outcasts, also-rans and the overlooked all trying to find a better future for themselves…often moving around town in a herd of scooters. In his public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), who has lost as much passion for teaching as she has for her husband. The simple guy who has every reason to think his life has stalled will come to learn an unexpected lesson: when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might discover your reason to live.
With both Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts being on fine form and remaining highly watchable throughout, George Takei, the Economics professor makes you laugh with his maniacal laugh. But it is Brit, Gugu Mbatha-Raw sparkling performance as scooter girl Talia, and just takes charge of every scene she appears in. Warm and funny, this is a refreshing new star in Hollywood.
Larry Crowne’s paper-thin plot flirts with the difficulties of unemployment and recession. Except that when I say flirt, I mean the script touches upon it once or twice and then it’s just gone. Which means in essence, Tom Hanks second directorial effort after his 1996 ‘That Thing You Do’ is a pleasant and breezy rom-com-drama, that is not nearly as romantic, comic or dramatic as it could and should have been. And, from someone of Hanks stature, you just expect a whole lot more.