Larry Crowne (2011)
Tom Hanks, I just want you to know…I forgive you. It’s tough, but after you directed, co-wrote, and starred in the summer block-bummer Larry Crowne, I reconsidered and gave you a mulligan. Not since That Thing You Do in 1996 have you both directed and written a film, but Larry Crowne is a lousy second effort. “Third time’s a charm,” they’ll say, but I’ll probably wait until your fourth…just to be sure.
When Larry Crowne, played by Hanks, is let go from his position at UMart due to his lack of education, his neighbors (Cedric the Entertainer and Tarija B. Henson) convince him to enroll in community college. He meets Mrs. Tainot, played by Julia Roberts, and then his life begins a whirlwind of new changes. On paper, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts seem a perfect fit, with remarkable résumés and three Oscars between them. But listen to me, Julia Roberts is no Meg Ryan…at least when flirting with Tom Hanks. It didn’t work well in Charlie Wilson’s War and it doesn’t work now.
The script, written with Hanks by Nia Vardalos, Oscar-nominated screenplay writer and actor best known for My Big Fat Greek Wedding, lacks any comedy, touching drama, or believable romance. I laughed exactly one time, thanks to Wilmer Valderrama. Larry Crowne is one of those movies you walk out of before it reaches the halfway mark. It’s time to forgive and forget, and hope that Hanks’ Captain Phillips in 2013 is better. For Roberts, 2012’s Mirror, Mirror is her next chance to impress.
And the supporting cast is ill-used, though they include notable comedic talents like Malcolm Barrett (from the hilarious short-lived “Better Off Ted”) and dramatic presence from Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”). They don’t use any of them. It’s difficult to describe just how bad Larry Crowne really is. If it wasn’t for its famous top-billed stars, it would be much worse, but thankfully Hanks and Roberts have a way of making any movie seem a little better than it really is.