Larry Crowne is the perfect counterbalance to all the action flicks out this summer. If you’ve had it up to ‘here’ with all the loud, 3D explosions and epic battles, Larry Crowne is just the thing to refresh your movie palate.
Larry (Tom Hanks) is a divorced middle aged man who dove into retail work after 20 years of Navy service. He is ultimately downsized, given the excuse that because he doesn’t have a college degree, he’s reached the climax of his growth potential at the U-Mart where he works. In order to give others a chance to advance, they’ve decided to cut him. Larry decides to ensure that he never has this problem again and enrolls in community college, and is advised to take Speech 217: The Art of Informal Remarks. This is where he meets his favorite teacher (and crush), Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts). Along the way he makes some big changes in his life, makes new friends, and learns to loosen up a little and enjoy the small things in life.
Larry Crowne is a quietly funny comedy that is just so gosh-darn adorable. Really, that’s exactly the best way to describe it. It’s so bright, square, and likable that you just can’t help but fall in love with the characters and the story. These qualities smooth over the rough spots and soften the predictability factor. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this movie not only stars Hanks, but that he also co-wrote and directed it as well. Hanks has always been an actor with a distinguished approachability. Hanks takes movies like Forrest Gump, That Thing You Do, and Terminal and turns them into these totally engaging and endearing films that overflow with charm. This is what he has done yet again with Larry Crowne. Hanks is obviously a fan of the small scale epiphany, in which characters experience problems that seem small from the outside, but mean everything to those experiencing them.
All the actors in Larry Crowne are quite endearing and fantastic in their roles. Julia Robert’s comedic timing is impeccable, and Wilmer Valderrama and Rami Malek are just a few of the colorful and enjoyable sidekicks that Larry meets along the way. Even Cedric the Entertainer manages to compose himself, downplaying his humor a bit to be quite believable as a neighbor. One of the most enjoyable characters is George Takei as Dr. Matsutani, a professor of Economics that is just a little too full of himself and abhorred by the use of cell phones in his class. It was a stroke of pure genius to cast him in that role.
The beauty of this movie is that it’s not Larry Crowne Gets an Education, or Larry Crowne Fights the Man, or even Larry Crowne Takes a Stand on Economic Politics. Larry Crowne is about Larry trying to better himself and unintentionally falling into his pursuit of happiness. Larry Crowne makes quiet points about how to pick yourself up and move forward no matter what your age. It shows you a man who shuffles the stacked deck before him and forces life to play by his terms. There are those who are complaining that Larry Crowne isn’t edgy or exciting enough when placed against other summer blockbusters. These critics need to grow up. Movies aren’t all about crap blowing up and blatant, glaring political agendas. Larry Crowne is engaging, warm, funny, and a perfect alternative to those who are sick to death of Hollywood blockbusters.
I give Larry Crowne 4 “Demon Rum” out of 5.