Larry Crowne (2011)

Called into a meeting with U-Mart management, middle-aged sales clerk Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) isn’t as destined for employee of the month as he might imagine, instead finding himself out of the job. Enrolling at community college at the guidance of his thrifty neighbours, Crowne finds himself sitting Mrs. Mercedes Tainot’s (Julia Roberts) speech class – Art of Informal Remarks – and Dr. Matsutani (George Takei – just wait for the hylarious Star Trek gag! Bet he’s never heard that one before) business lectures. Excelling at both, Crowne strikes up a friendship with fellow motorscooterist Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and finds work at a local diner, undergoing somewhat of a reinvention in the process. Reassuring his downtrodden teacher that her class does in fact make a difference, Larry (dubbed Lance by the quirky OH LOOK HOW QUIRKY SHE IS Talia) soon finds himself hot for teacher too.

I take it you’re familiar with Tom Hanks’ onscreen persona – the genial, preternaturally earnest “older man” who tucks his shirt in and stands proud as a picture of ideological America. Humble and steadfast in the face of adversity, Hanks has saved Private Ryan, befriended a volleyball and fallen for Meg Ryan not once, but twice. It is a practiced, family friendly namesake that he brings to Larry Crowne – as writer, director and producer – a light romance that is notably lacking in such modern staples as sex and comedy.

While Hanks’ unremarkable direction might rob proceedings of any semblance of memorability – I am already struggling to recall Julia Roberts’ character’s name and I am just fresh from the theatre – such an unassuming streak masquerades as novelty in a genre packed to the brim with No Strings Attacheds and Friends With Benefits. Featuring a professor suffering somewhat of a crisis of motivation, the relative success of Larry Crowne becomes immediately apparent when compared to the similarly themed Bad Teacher. Whereas Diaz portrayed her attitude to the tune of endless f-bombs and an abrasive demeanor, Roberts’ expertly exudes indifference in a relatable manner – who could possibly envy her character’s life – to charming and empathetic affect.

While both Hanks and Roberts are instantly recognisable – and identifiable – as their respective screen personas incarnate, however, the supporting cast are less confidently handled. Bryan Cranston’s pornosseur husband, Dean Tainot, feels like a cartoon villain, someone vilified within the restraints of the 12A rating. While his eyes may wander to the less wholesome parts of the internet, his reaction to his wife’s disapproval seems jarringly out of character for an actor who barely has one to betray – he is A MAN and that seems to be enough characterisation for Hanks. Mbatha-Faw’s free-spirited motorscooter enthusiast, meanwhile, is conventionally unconventional, complete with requisite Loveable Quirks and an outdated appreciation of Feng-Shui. She even says “snacktacular” for heck sakes, how nauseating. Hanks’ retrosexual and perpetually tucked in mature student is clearly as painfully out of touch with 21st Century masculinity and Generation Y as Hanks’ retrosexual and perpetually tucked in writer-director.

Unconfident and uneven, Larry Crowne is perhaps the least hip movie you will see this year; a movie which uses the word “cool” with such measured consideration that it physically hurts. Featuring some rare chemistry between it’s two leads, however (come on, the marriage at the end of Bridesmaids was never going to last), Hanks is as handy with a quality wheel of cheese as his Larry Crowne is with a slice of French toast.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Larry Crowne (2011)

  1. Pingback: July 2011 – Well I’m not gonna kiss you! « popcornaddict

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