Directed by Tom Hanks
“Academy Award® winners Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts come together for a romantic and optimistic comedy about how it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing blue-collar job, Larry Crowne (Hanks) enrolls at his local college to start over. There, he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher (Roberts). Now this simple guy will discover that when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might find your reason to live.”
“Larry Crowne” is rated PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content.
The centerpiece of the movie is Larry Crowne losing his job. In this real world market where people are losing their jobs left and right, this will speak to many people on a personal level. Larry then makes the decision to go back to school and get his degree. This throws him into the community college world with a lot of young students. It turns the film into “Community” lite. You get the clash of cultures and generations and it’s fun, but nothing you haven’t seen before.
If you’ve attended college or if you’re teaching college, then the addition of Julia Roberts as Mercedes Tainot is going to entertain you. She’s sick of school, sick of unmotivated students, and generally feeling burned out. Again, a lot of teachers and students will identify with her. And when George Takei appears as Dr. Matsutani, the instructor with a passionate hatred of cell phones, his character will feel especially familiar.
Hanks, who directs as well as stars and co-writes with Nia Vardalos, fills the cast with a lot of likable actors. You get Cedric the Entertainer as Lamar, Taraji P. Henson as B’Ella, Wilmer Valderrama as Dell Gordo, Pam Grier as Frances, and Bryan Cranston (“Malcom in the Middle”) as Dean Tainot. Gugu Mbatha-Raw also stands out as Talia, the carefree spirit who takes Larry under her wing and helps him rebuild his life. It will be interesting to see what she does in the future.
Ultimately “Larry Crowne” is amusing, feel-good, and utterly forgettable. But sometimes that’s just the kind of movie you want to see. Go into this with your expectations in check.
The Blu-ray has a few bonus features. There are a number of deleted scenes, most of which are from the beginning of the film when Larry is working his retail job. “The Making of Larry Crowne” is exactly what it sounds like. You see Hanks directing, shooting scenes with his wife, and other fun stuff. Then “Fun on Set” is a series of home movies made while filming. One notable video shows the cast and crew playing a joke on Julia Roberts who enjoys doing crochet between scenes. Overall it looks like this movie was a lot of fun to shoot.