Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are movie stars in a world that no longer respects stardom. Studios are more interested these days in titles that have name brand recognition (it requires less work) and so the two appearing together in a film in 2011 means that it’s met with a curious indifference. Shouldn’t Larry Crowne be a bigger deal? Well, like the film itself, the appeal is mellow and surprisingly unassuming, and it’s pleasures are more in what it’s not (loud and dumb) than what it is (a formulaic romantic comedy). Find out more below…

The Players:

  • Director: Tom Hanks
  • Screenplay: Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama
  • Original Music by: James Newton Howard
  • Cinematography by: Philippe Rousselot

The Story:

Larry Crowne (Hanks) thinks his life is pretty perfect until he gets fired from his job for not having a college education. Looking for work, he finds few opportunities, so he heads back to school, where he meets Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) his speech teacher. Talia (Mbatha-Raw) is a free spirit who sees that Larry also rides a scooter, and so she decides to help fix up his life, while his interest in Miss Tainot – whose marriage is crumbling, and who drinks to excess – simmers.

The Good:

  • The Ensemble: As the film was written by actors, there’s a sense that every performer has an internal life and there own story. As such – for a film that ambles along – the sense of community enlivens the picture. And since the film, like its star, aims for likeability, that’s enough to make this a pleasant enough sit-through.
  • Julia Roberts: Written to her strengths, she gets to play bitchy and bubbly. Both suit her well, and it’s fun to watch her play either giddy or hungover. It’s also nice to see her in a part where she’s playing her age, but not in an awkward or demeaning way.
  • The Message: Crowne is about someone dealing with life after it goes off the course they thought it would be on. It’s a film of minor triumphs, and though that low-key vibe may be so low that it feels vacuous, Hanks as a director respects his characters enough to not go for over the top theatrics.

The Bad:

  • The Manic Pixie Dream Girl: The innovation – such as it is – with this film is that like so many romantic comedies, there’s a woman who enters a depressed man’s life and turns it around, but here that’s not the romantic interest. Still, it’s the same sort of thing, and it’s a silly cliche that needs working over.
  • Slight: Crowne works on its own terms, but it’s the sort of film that leaves your memory shortly after watching it, and little happens that isn’t predicable based on the genre and having seen the trailer. Most movies are predictable, but there’s nothing about the film that makes it something to rush to theaters to see, unless you watch enough movies that the thought of seeing one starring two adults is enough of a motivator.
  • The End Credits: Few films have done as good a job at sending people out of the theater one the film ends.

Overall:

As a film of modest pleasures, the film succeeds, but like it’s main character, the film’s goals are small and manageable. It works on those terms, but only just.

Rating: 7/10

Larry Crowne hits theaters July 1.

Gallery:

Trailer:

Get the Flash Player to see this content.