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While I was scrolling through the different titles available this
weekend, I chanced upon "Larry Crowne". Looked it up on IMDb; not so
good - an average of 5/10. Scroll down further and voilà! Written by
Tom Hanks himself, gotta see it. And I'm glad I did.
First, let me get the 'acting' part out of the way - It's good. Not mind-blowing, but most certainly good enough to be worth the US$9 weekend price of a movie ticket here in Singapore. The actors were good enough that I felt connected, and that's as good as it ever has to be.
As for the plot - nothing jaw-droppingly complicated and twisted, but then again neither was Forest Gump. And what a big success that movie proved to be. Don't expect character development to blow you away, but it did, at the very least, impress me.
Of course, if you walk into the theater expecting "Harold & Kumar" or "Chuck & Larry" humor, you would most definitely be sorely disappointed. Some others have criticized the film, saying that it had "cheap laughs" at best. Now that isn't necessarily true, because it all depends on what your expectations are.
So hear this - Larry Crowne isn't an all-out-LOL-fest, it's a wholesome film sprinkled with subtle, clever, and thoughtful humor.
In my opinion, this film was an excellent cross-section representation of the sandwiched American Middle-class - too rich to qualify for welfare, too poor to save any money. Most people (outside the United States) wouldn't know the America shown throughout this film - where folks are priced out of their own states, where they attend community colleges that aren't crazy over keg parties and crawling with bikini-straddling blonds, where students have to juggle work and school, where they might have to choose the former over the latter too often.
Hollywood glamorizes the American lifestyle each and every chance it gets, and this film provides a rare glimpse into the real America where most people reside.
All things considered, I would consider this film a feel-good movie, and there's much more to it than meets the eye. If you enjoyed Forest Gump, you'd most likely enjoy this one - even if the feel-goodness sets in slightly more subtly.
One final thing - I've never written a review for any movie before, ever. But I felt that the reviews here (as of 9th July 11) were doing Larry Crowne such injustice that I had to write this to balance it out.
To begin, I'm not sure what some of the other reviewers expected to see
in this film. Larry Crowne is not a sizzling drama, a fast paced action
movie, or an over-the-top comedy, & it's not likely to win a bunch of
Oscars for acting, screenplay or anything else for that matter. What is
is, however, is a well written, fun movie that is fairly well acted &
The story does take a little bit to unfold, but does so in an organic way as not to give away too much too soon. The cast was well chosen & I found the characters to have been well developed & really fun people. Like most other films, there is certainly some creative license taken in that most everybody in it is funny and likable, which is what you want from a film like this. If only reality were filled with such great people, we should all be so lucky.
There are a few loose ends that may have been stitched up a bit better (per several of the reviews I have read) but I'm not sure that was necessary at all to the story. Moviegoers these days seem to have a need for everything to be spelled out to the Nth degree. If it wasn't critical for the story to unfold, it didn't make its way into the picture. There's something to be said for movies that leave a bit to the imagination for the viewer after the film is over, Keeps you thinking about it for awhile after you've left your seat.
I would watch it again. I left feeling good, with a smile on my face, which is what I was after upon deciding to watch it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Greetings again from the darkness. I view Tom Hanks as one of the
all-time giants among movie actors. He is true Hollywood royalty. When
I heard he was producing, directing, co-writing and starring in a new
film, I assumed it was his first step in becoming the new Clint
Eastwood. Sadly, Mr. Hanks broke the number rule of movie-making: have
a point to make or a story to tell. What we get is a 1980's flashback
when mainstream movies could be successful just by putting nice people
And nice people is what we get. Tom Hanks plays the ultimate nice guy as Larry Crowne. Crowne is the type who attracts nice people and makes them even nicer. Even when he loses his job, we never doubt that this nice guy will land on his feet and even be better off eventually. Oh no you don't ... stop trying to guess the ending! Other nice people are ... EVERY STUDENT in the speech class taught by Ms. Roberts, the L.A. scooter club that recruits Crowne, the Marine owner of a diner who hires Crowne, the lottery-winning neighbors of Crowne and the dean of students at the community college. The nicest one of all is Talia, played delightfully by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (from the awful "Undercovers" show that lasted less than one season).
The closest thing to a bad guy is Roberts' husband played by Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad). His fault? He is a bit lazy (after writing two books) and he likes to look at swimsuit models on the internet. Sure, when the movie starts, Ms. Roberts character is at her lowest. She clearly drinks too much to mask her misery, though it's never clear just why she is so miserable.
But this is not a movie about conflict or tension or anything not nice ... even though it begins with a nice guy getting laid off from his job. The story and screenplay are co-written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos. You will remember her as the creative force behind the gem "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Unfortunately, this film is nowhere close to the level of that one.
If Mr. Hanks' goal is to become an important filmmaker in the vein of Clint Eastwood, or even Frank Capra, he will need to study the films that have made him rich and famous. Or at least study the best screwball comedies or rom-coms. A good movie must have CONFLICT! There needs to be something that creates interest for the viewer. Simple, bland, generic, nice, likable and swell can all play a part ... but they can't be EVERY part! My two favorite things about the film are George Takei and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mr. Takei (of Star Trek fame) provides some of the few laughs in the film as a very meticulous Economics professor. His voice and mannerisms inspire us to smile and ultimately laugh outloud. Gugu is just terrific as the idealistic free-spirit who transforms Crowne and lights up her every scene. Can't wait to see what she does next.
As you might expect, supporting actors lined up to work with Hanks and Julia. Among those not mentioned above are Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji B. Henson (Crowne's neighbors), Wilmer Valderrama (Gugu's boyfriend), Rita Wilson (the mortgage officer), Pam Grier (professor), Grace Gummel (Meryl Streep's daughter as the 'pasta' speech student), and it's always nice to see Bob Stevenson on screen. He is one of the more underutilized deadpan comedic talents around.
There is little doubt that this film will find an audience. An audience that demands little from a movie. There is nothing wrong with two hours of back-slapping and giddy smiling ... as long as you get a story to go along with it.
Back in 1996, Tom Hanks made his debut as a director with the mediocre
That Thing You Do!. Now, 15 years later, he decided to make his second
movie as a filmmaker with Larry Crowne, which despite not being
something brilliant, kept me very entertained, and I appreciated its
intention of recovering a honest, kind and inoffensive style of comedy,
which seems extinct nowadays.
The publicity of Larry Crowne suggests the film is a typical romantic comedy; however, the truth is that the screenplay aspired to something more complicated, which does not exactly fit into the romantic formula, but which neither stays very far from its established subjects. Let's say that the couple meets, falls in love...and nothing else. There are not any lachrymose revelations nor unexpected twists; we simply have the gradual revelation of compatible spirits whose attraction with each other is not exactly physical or sexual, but the result of solitary lives who might improve a little bit with some intimate contact. Besides, I guess that the relaxed ending might disappoint to those who were expecting a big romantic gesture, or a declaration of eternal love. However, I liked that minimalistic tone, as well as the pleasant humor which rounds around this passive love story.
But that is not all, because parallel to the incipient romance, we witness the main character's evolution...with which the screenplay also takes a very interesting road. Larry Crowne is not one of those movies about the "loser" who becomes a "winner" thanks to the magic of love, the popularity or the use of phrases such as "be yourself". The main character is the same person on the beginning and at the end of the movie; but the things he lives introduce subtle changes in his attitude, his comprehension of the world, and even his nature, leaving us the impression that his evolution is just starting. And now that I think so, I guess that that is the point from the movie: sowing the seeds of the change of the main character and making us to imagine his future flowering.
As for the performances, I do not have any complaints either. Hanks makes a solid work in the leading role, and I also liked the work from the supporting cast, highlighting Cedric The Entertainer, Malcolm Barrett and George Takei. Finally...Julia Roberts, who co-stars the movie with Hanks. I am not a big fan of hers, because there were various films in which I did not like her performances (two examples: Erin Brockovich and Dying Young). However, there have been a few occasions in which she was able to bring competent works, like in Larry Crowne. Her "Hollywood star" status never interferes with her performance in here, which I found honest, detailed and totally credible.
The complaint I have against Larry Crowne is that some scenes feel a bit repetitive. For the rest, I enjoyed this film pretty much despite not being something excellent, and I think it deserves a recommendation because of its many positive elements.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love Tom Hanks and I love his directing style. That Thing You Do
remains one of my favorite movies ever and this film, Larry Crowne, has
the same feel about it, though the subject matter is completely
I didn't expect too much before watching the movie because of the lukewarm reception by some of the critics. But I have learned not to rely too heavily on professional reviewers because I so often disagree with them. To me, a film is successful if it is satisfying. If there is one word to describe Larry Crowne it is satisfying - in a feel-good sort of way.
This is not Hanks' greatest film, but it doesn't set out to be. It accomplishes what Hanks seems to have set out to do. It tells a story about a man who, after getting a divorce and then being fired from his job, has to cope with reevaluating his life and reshuffling his priorities. I like the way it didn't revert to the banal going-into- deep-depression and feeling-sorry-for-myself modes. Hanks' character takes the next logical step to being fired for not having enough education and signs up for college. And he succeeds brilliantly at it.
Julia Roberts plays one of his college professors who is struggling with burn out and a dysfunctional marriage. She nails the character, Mrs. Tainot, beautifully. But the best supporting character is played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She is gorgeous but in a cute way, not in a runway model way. She plays the free spirited, scooter-riding college friend who takes over without asking and proceeds to do a make-over on Crowne. It works, though, as Crowne's image is substantially improved by her wardrobe and hair style changes on him.
I won't give away the ending, but there are no surprises here. You wouldn't expect one from a Tom Hanks film. There's nothing cutting edge about it either. But despite one or two plot turns that force you to suspend your disbelief for a fraction of a second (such as actually getting fired after years as a successful employee because your boss feels your lack of education is hurting your potential to be promoted), the film succeeds. There are no cringe moments, no vulgarity (I don't even think it used its one-allowed, obligatory F-word), and no tedious scenes of theatrical irony. It's just a simple, entertaining, feel-good movie that makes you happy. And sometimes, that's what a movie should be.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I cannot believe the reviews I am reading for this movie! I would have walked out except I thought my friend was enjoying it, after leaving the theater I found out she did not like it as much as I did. From the beginning when Larry gets fired, it felt so stiff, acting and screenplay was not done well. He goes off to college, big surprise here! Meets young, hot girl who will change his appearance, and make him better looking when he was fine the way he was. All this movie promoted is what is wrong with America, change your looks to suit everyone else, foreclose on your home instead of paying your bills, divorce your husband and as he is getting pulled over for DUI laugh at him, etc. Hello, Julia Roberts is an alcoholic in the film and yet she and Hanks hook up and both of them have issues to work on, no chemistry at all between them. When they kissed it was so fake. It could have been so good, the right actors were there, loved the economics professor, when he was on screen it was the only time I got a good laugh.
I'm amazed that critics give a thumbs up to the incredible stupid film
Bad Teacher, but give a thumbs down to the funny charming film Larry
Crowne, go figure.
Larry Crowne(Tom Hanks), a middle aged man, who works at U-mart, and loves life and his job. But gets let go, when it gets discovered, that he never went college. So Larry does not know to do, his friend and neighbor(Cedric the Entertainer) tells him, that he should go to college. So Larry agrees, he signs up for some classes. Larry makes friends with some classmates, and also befriends his teacher named Mrs Tainot(Julia Roberts), who is uptight and cynical. But how will this all play out for Larry?
Tom Hanks is enjoyable as always, so was his directing. He never hogs the spotlight on himself too much, he lets every supporting person shine in there own way, all the actors seem relaxed with Hanks directing, and it shows in there performances. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts have great chemistry. A great blend of comedy and drama, so if you want to get away from raunchiness, and see something light on it's feet, then Larry Crowne is that movie for you.
Saw it at European premiere. Overall it is a nice comedy. Not for hard
laughs, but a somewhat sentimental story about an excellent salesman
who is fired, because he doesn't have a college degree. Hence he goes
back to community college and ends up falling in love.
So far so good. The entire cast is good and Julia is excellent as a hard drinking disillusioned teacher. Tom's direction is a bit slow. So is the build up of the story. It seems to move endlessly among A story, B story trying to please everyone.
Tom decided on a strange, sepia colored 70s look for this one. It's so unreal, or maybe real, I quiet was turned off by it. I suppose for a mature adult audience in their mid 40s this one works. Teenagers will see the Transporter CGI nonsense, while their parents will have a good time with this love-comedy-drama story.
'LARRY CROWNE': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)
Tom Hanks directs his second feature film (after 1996's 'THAT THING YOU DO'). He also co-wrote the screenplay with Nia Vardalos (the writer and star of 'MY BIG FAT Greek WEDDING', which Hanks produced) and stars in the film with Julia Roberts. With all that high caliber A list talent attached you'd think the film would be something special (especially for a summer release) but it's not. It's just an average romantic comedy with nothing witty, new or original to offer. There are a few laughs and touching moments but for the most part the film is mediocre at best.
Hanks plays the title role of Larry Crowne, a humble and well liked employee of a successful retail store who suddenly finds himself laid off when the store has to resort to downsizing in order to maintain high profits. Although he was extremely good at his job (and employee of the month nine times) he's let go due to his lack of college experience. Forced to sell his house and his car to get by he decides to go back to school in order to better himself and improve his chances of finding employment. Once at school he finds new friends in fellow outcasts and develops a crush on his speech teacher Mercedes Tainot (Roberts). Mrs. Tainot has lost all passion in her job and love for her porn addicted husband (Bryan Cranston) and finds inspiration in Larry. Larry of course finds new inspiration in life (as well) as his whole world begins to change.
The film is funny at times (nothing laugh out loud but it is mildly amusing) and it's also inspirational to a certain extent (but nothing we haven't seen before). With Hanks and Roberts starring in the film you just expect an attempt at something more at least. It just feels so happy in it's mediocrity, which is a little bizarre coming from what appears to be a big summer movie (at first glance) with two of Hollywood's biggest stars in the leads. I loved Hank's first directorial effort, 'THAT THING YOU DO', and it's actually one of my favorite films of his. So knowing he has so much more to offer makes this all the more disappointing. Not a bad film just very far from a good one.
Watch our review show 'MOVIE TALK' at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QlrJnwsHOM
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Comedy authority Stan Freberg said once, and I agree, that humor needs
to be based in reality. Unfortunately the reality that
director-screenwriter-star Tom Hanks has constructed for himself here
is that convenient target of community college as a collection of
uninterested losers who try the instructors' patience to the extreme
that he or she, much like leading-lady prof played by Julia Roberts, is
angry, cynical -- yet at the same time apathetic -- and something of a
tippler. Along comes Tom Hanks as Larry Crowne who, as a
newly-unemployed middle-ager among the weeds of youth, somehow
(osmosis?) introduces the unique perspective that age, intelligence and
life experience can bring to continuing adult education.
As Larry/Hanks struggles with his early attempts in the class, that of conversational speechmaking, we see Julia Roberts' character roll her eyes upward and refine her growing contempt as the younger folk in the class give supposedly insubstantial talks such as shopping and comparing one Star Trek series to another. Well, what should they be doing instead? In the meantime the instructor herself, as far as the audience can see, contributes nothing.
Under the circumstances these kids are making a valiant, sincere effort. Okay, the one guy had crib notes written on the palm of his hand.
By the way -- has anyone else figured this out -- there is nothing unusual about older adults, intelligent or otherwise, who return to school and find the real, practical self-enrichment they seek. This falseness of the film's primary concept is an embarrassing display of how little Hanks, et al, grasp the everyday realities which, to the movie audience, are dirt-common.
I'd forgive any of the wrong turns taken in this film if it were funny. I didn't laugh once.
Subplot that Roberts' character's own marriage is deteriorating (gee I wonder why), other than making her available to LC as a love interest, has, like so many other story elements (the motor scooter "gang," the eternal garage sale next door, waste of George Takei's good character work as poor man's John Houseman in Larry's other class -- wasn't Larry supposed to be taking three classes?) little or no integration with rest of story.
Near end of picture Julia's character says to Larry/Hanks "You're a great student" and he says "You're a great teacher." No she isn't! The first and only time she shows the remotest interest in her job is five minutes before the final exam, when she has the students do a mild aerobic exercise to loosen up.
It is, rather, the very fact that community college instructors don't make much money and don't find intellectual gold at the end of all their hard work that we know that they do care. My impression, and I'm sure many will agree, is that, if a student gives the slightest indication that he or she is trying to learn, a community college instructor will bend over backwards to give that person an education.
Tom Hanks as director is out of touch with human society to a degree unprecedented since Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut. One can only assume he agreed to this project as part of a deal to let him do something good next.
Turner and Hooch 2?
Will Hooch even return Hanks' phone calls after this?
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