Heather's DVD Review: Larry Crowne
Is it really possible to start over after life has put you through the ringer? That's the premise behind the movie Larry Crowne, now on DVD, which had a lot of familiar results that were more disappointing than anything.
Larry Crowne followed the newly unemployed Larry (Tom Hanks) who recently lost his job at a retail store because he didn't go to college. He owed a lot of money on his mortgage and he went through a painful divorce. Larry wanted to simply give up on his life, until his neighbors Lamar and B'Ella (Cedric The Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson) inspired him to start over. That meant that Larry planned to enroll in college in order to help better his chances. He met a colorful array of characters that included free spirited classmate Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her boyfriend Dell Gordo (Wilmer Valderrama). Through them, he joined their gang of scooter riders and went on a series of adventures that led him to connecting with his cynical professor Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts). Mercedes was stuck in an unhappy marriage to Dean (Bryan Cranston) and turned to alcohol to cope with her unhappiness. Can Larry and Mercedes find true happiness in their lives or with each other?
In terms of plot, Larry Crowne had a decent amount of material to go on, but it wasn't properly used. It was hard to tell if it was a drama about unemployment, a comedy of manners or a romantic comedy. There were too many plot points that there wasn't enough focus on the ones that truly mattered. Audiences knew that the likable Hanks was going to win over the likable Roberts. It was a given. Moviegoers wanted to see two decent stars get together and walk off into the sunset. The story should've found a way to balance Mercedes and Larry's lives before they crossed paths a little better. It was nice to see Roberts show her inner mean girl in the beginning as she undercut her students at every turn. Her chemistry with Hanks was genuine based in their off-screen friendship, but it would've been nice for her to retain some of Mercedes' early feistiness when Larry and Mercedes got closer.
In terms of acting, Hanks and Roberts gave their typical performances as the King and Queen of Nice. Audiences were required to root for them from the start. The movie's biggest breakthrough was Raw's performance as the free spirited Talia who pushed Hanks' Larry out of his comfort zone. She proved to be a force to be reckoned with on the now defunct NBC show Undercovers as the one half of a married spy couple. Expect bigger things from her down the line. Hanks' latest directorial effort was a decent one, but it was bogged down by an unevenly paced story that felt victim to too many plot cliches. It's definitely worth watching for Hanks and Roberts' most loyal fans and for people looking for the regular joes to succeed.
Verdict: A routine coming of age story that took too long to find its center.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: PG-13
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)