Director: Tom Hanks
Cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Wilmer Valderrama, George Takei, Rita Wilson
Synopsis: Larry Crowne is a dedicated store manager, clearly competent at his job having already received eight employee of the month awards. He is made redundant however given that he lacks a college education. In response, he downgrades from a four-wheel-drive to a scooter, and enrolls in a community college. What follows is a number of life-changing encounters and interactions with colourful characters, that start Larry on the way to rebuilding his life.
There has been a lot of discussion already to date concerning this film, and critics remain divided as to the quality of this film. It is very easy to see why. There is nothing that really that this film does to set it apart from other cinematic offerings, and the story does not break any comedy molds to make it any more memorable. Despite this though, it is a very enjoyable film, and I did find myself being won over by it.
This is largely due to the presence of Hanks, here in the multiple roles of writer, director, and star. With Crowne he has created the type of character that is difficult not to feel supportive of. He is honest, hard-working, and unfailingly well intentioned.Early on this seems a little to trite and clichéd, however as time progresses and he meets increasingly flamboyant characters, he starts to let his own personality shine too. By the closing credits, we discover hat behind the retail manager is a man with a rich background for story telling, as well as being a man of other untapped potential.
This journey is greatly assisted by the mentioned flamboyant characters. Roberts is the female lead, Mercedes Tainot. It was refreshing to see her play a role somewhat taciturn and abrasive. It is of course this cold heart that Crowne is most keen on winning. I am not normally a big Roberts fan, but I was won over by her portrayal of a woman in a suffocating marriage and career, and could not help but smile as the ice melted. Cranston plays her unambitious husbandDean, whom was once a successful author, yet now spends his days blogging and looking at dirty pictures online. It is a character well-played to illustrate the circumstances behind Mercedes current persona.
Filling out the rest of the cast we have Talia (Mbatha-Raw), a free spirit type whom help teaches Larry to let out his inner-self. In doing so she unwittingly makes her boyfriend, Dell Gordo (Valderrama), feel threatened, and ever watchful of Larry’s intentions. This leads to some delightfully comic moments. The rest of Mercedes class are also a delightful group, that help keep proceedings chugging along at a nice pace. The true delight though is George Takei, formerly Star Trek’s Sulu, as Larry’s Economics professor. This performance is worth the price of admission alone.
Larry Crowne is perhaps a film in no danger of winning many awards, but it is a delightful film perfect for a quiet Sunday afternoon. If you feel like it is time to see a feel-good movie, you could certainly do a lot worse than this.
3 stars out of 5