Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Larry Crowne

Larry Crowne works at a Walmart type superstore, is exceedingly friendly and seems to know the lay of the land. Then one day he is called into the break room where he is informed that he has been downsized due to not having any college experience (plot convenience). He attends the local community college, befriends a beautiful free spirited young woman (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and draws the attention of his alcoholic speech teacher who has lost her passion. Larry Crowne is the second directorial effort from Tom Hanks working from a script he cowrote with collaborator Nia Vardalos. The film strives to be an upbeat recession tale in the same vein as a Frank Capra/Robert Riskin film, but oozes so much niceness and cuteness it doesn't quite achieve its goals. Stars Hanks and Julia Roberts elevate the material as best they can, but its cloying nature which I suspect can be attributed largely to Vardalos, and the fact that their attraction isn't fleshed out at all whatsoever, gets the best of them. Also, fine supporting actors are grossly underused including Bryan Cranston, Taraji P. Henson, and Pam Grier. I did go along with some of this movie and found the scenes in Roberts' classroom to be amusing as were the scenes in George Takai's economics' class. Larry Crowne is an overly earnest film that could have benefited from dialing down the cuteness and creating more authentic, well realized characters.