Even if you really like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, you’re still going to have a hard time liking this movie. It just falls flat – as does the chemistry between these two powerhouse actors. What a disappointment.
Hanks plays Larry Crowne, an affable, hard working, middle-aged guy who loses his job at a Walmart-esque store, ostensibly because he never got a college degree. When his neighbor (played by Cedric the Entertainer) tells him to “get some knowledge, and you’ll be fire-proof”, Larry decides to enroll at the local community college. There, he develops a crush on his public-speaking teacher, Mercy Tainot (Roberts) who, somewhat inexplicably, begins to fall for him as well.
The movie doesn’t offer anything fresh. As a romantic comedy, it’s neither romantic nor funny. As a drama, it is simply uninspiring. And the subplots are a superficial mess. One of them revolves around Larry’s newfound friends – a “gang” of students who like to cruise around town on their scooters when school lets out. (Yikes, I just had a flashback to Grease 2!).
Anyway, my favorite scenes in the movie don’t have anything to do with Hanks or Roberts. The real scene-stealers are Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as Mercy’s obnoxious (soon to be ex-) husband, and Geoge Takei (of Star Trek fame) as Larry’s economics professor.
Hanks directed the movie and co-wrote the script with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) so it’s a triple whammy in the disappointment column. Larry Crowne aims to say something poignant about second chances, life after corporate downsizing, yadda yadda. But it misses the target completely. The setting and the cast of characters make it feel like an extended episode of the TV show Community, only not as funny. My suggestion: take a pass on Larry Crowne, and catch a few free episodes of Community instead.