Jun 7, 2013

[Movies] Larry Crowne (2011)

Larry Crowne is not the typical sort of movie that I'd watch on my own. So it figures that I only watched it because happened to be the movie that was playing on HBO after I had arrived home from work.

And it's not like I have anything particular against Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts - I do enjoy a number of their prior movies that have come out over the years. It's more than there was just nothing about this movie that sparked my interest. In fact, I still had no idea about the general premise of the movie by the time that I was watching it on HBO.

But there weren't any particularly compelling reality TV shows playing on the other channels, so I figured this was worth the gamble, for the most part. And this is considering all that I knew about the movie was that there were a lot of scooters on the poster.

As it was playing, I thought it was going to be a romantic comedy since Julia Roberts was involved. But over time, it felt a lot more slice of life in nature. But by the end, it had turned out to be some sort of a romantic comedy after all.

How weird.


Synopsis: Larry Crowne is identified as a 2011 romantic comedy movie based on Wikipedia. It was directed by Tom Hanks, who also co-wrote the screenplay together with Nia Vardalos. Maybe that explains all the scooters.

Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is a Navy veteran who was fired from his job at a retail store because his lack of a college degree. Thus in order to keep his house and move forward in life, he takes the advice of his friend Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and enrolls at a community college. And to further reduce his expenses, he opts to buy a scooter from Lamar to avoid driving his truck.

At school he first befriends Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) since she also drives a schooter. And then he ends up in the Speech class of the rather jaded and disillusioned Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts). She's reached that point in her career when she constantly expects her classes to get cancelled given they often don't meet the minimum number of required students to make the class worthwhile. But Larry joining this Speech class pushes them to the minimum of 10 students, and thus the adventure begins.

I know what you're thinking - Julia Roberts playing a teacher again? Is this suppose to be some sort of unofficial sequel to Mona Lisa Smile or something? And she plays the role in a rather similar fashion - think of her character there mixed with some Erin Brockovich but without the sass. In fact, her interpretation of being a jaded teacher has her being very deadpan throughout most of the movie. Oh no, this is not anything like Dangerous Minds or Mr. Holland's Opus.

Surprised how many movies I'm referencing in this post? Just you wait - I'm just getting started.

Tom Hanks on the other hand seems to have shifted into that weird side of his acting when he tries to present himself as being somewhat dumber than he really is. It's somewhere in-between Big and Forrest Gump without quite as going as crazy as Castaway. And thus it takes a bit of patience to appreciate his character as he goes from sequence to sequence.

The movie just doesn't grip you as it progresses. Tainot is a horribly boring and uninspiring character and her little classroom exercises are nothing even remotely as inspiring as Dead Poets' Society - not that it should be. She is supposed to be treating this solely as a job and no longer as a vocation or something to be passionate about. And Crowne is a little doddering in nature - I feel he ends up acting older than he really is. And the kids in the various classes are so much wallpaper.

At least George Takei had a snarky role as an economics professor. His scenes were mildly interesting. And while Wilmer Valderrama's character wasn't all that interesting either, he was kinda hot in a chunky, meaty kind of way. You know the movie is bad when I resort to objectifying actors in the movie just to keep myself involved until the end. Go Wilmer!

Larry Crowne is a movie with a weak premise, a confusing narrative and surprisingly uninspiring performances from notable, big name actors. And in that regard it's rather disappointing and I wish that they had thought things throw a bit more somehow. Thus I can only rate the movie as 1.5 weird speeches delivered in class out of a possible 5.


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