Larry Crowne

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts go back to school in a threadbare comedy-drama

Larry Crowne

©2011 Vendome International, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Director: Tom Hanks
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Time Out rating:
Japanese title: Shiawase no Kyoshitsu

An innocuous wish-fulfilment fantasy masquerading as a comedy-drama about the value of adult education, this is basically a $5-million indie movie featuring two A-list stars, director and co-writer Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. It is also further proof that craven Hollywood studios should never allow a major player to direct his or her long-cherished pet project.

Never at any point does this movie touch upon reality. Ex-Navy cook turned U-Mart employee of the month Larry Crowne (Hanks) gets the sack, swaps his gas-guzzling 4x4 for a secondhand scooter and signs up for community college, where his public- speaking teacher turns out to be the jaded ‘Miss’ Tainot (Roberts), who self-medicates with cocktails while her self-published loser husband surfs porn.

Being an all-round good guy but also a fish out of water, the innocent, hard-working Larry is instantly embraced by his young fellow students, receiving a sartorial and tonsorial makeover from the beautiful, free-spirited Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her scooter-riding pals, before catching the eye of his equally lovely teacher.

After the fizzy, pop-tastic stylings of That Thing You Do!, this is a backward step for director Hanks, whose co-writer Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) must share the blame for a script that is flat, anodyne and littered with lazy coincidences. Hanks is as loveable as ever, Roberts flashes her billion-dollar smile and – as in Charlie Wilson’s War – they do make a funny, charmingly mismatched couple. Scene stealer Mbatha-Raw’s Talia dreams of owning her own secondhand clothing store, and this is like a well-worn vintage dress: comfortable but a little threadbare.

Larry Crowne opens nationwide on May 11

By Nigel Floyd
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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