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Larry Crowne Movie Review: Life Lessons on Finding Happiness

Updated on October 6, 2012

There’s a difference in being content and having a deep sense of joy. When you’re living a life of contentment, you’re doing the natural things, of living in existence, to life at its fullest.

Going to work each day, carrying out your daily tasks, motivates you on the job. You’re focusing on getting the work done. In many ways, you could just be going through the motions. Nothing changes and life becomes routine, it’s a safe environment.

What happens when your life is suddenly flipped upside down? When the routines in life are unexpectedly ripped from your life?

Do you then wrestle with bitterness or feelings of anger? Do you fall into sadness or deep despair? The strength of your character is tested when life suddenly changes.

Tom Hanks as Larry Crowne


Larry Crowne faces his challenge

This is what happens to the character in the film, Larry Crowne .

In the movie, Larry Crowne faces many of life’s ups and downs. The film illustrates these unexpected changes while offering some life lessons.

Larry loses his job. Downsized, he finds himself in a familiar situation so many are facing today.

An employee of the month several times running, Larry was a dedicated hard-working man who was living in contentment.

Yet his employer lets him go.

“You don’t have a college education,” the bosses told him. “You have no chance for advancement. We are parting ways, Larry.” The employers appeared unsympathetic to Larry’s situation. A divorced man with no children, Larry lives in the house he bought out from his ex-wife.

Without a job, he now faces foreclosure. He has no income; no college education. Larry is facing a crisis in his life. He’s facing his storm.

Larry Crowne goes back to school

However Larry served 20 years as a cook in the Navy. He begins his search to find a job, no one is interested. Larry doesn’t give up. He is a determined middle-aged man. In spite of his circumstances, he is willing to take some risks.

There’s a difference between being content and finding true joy deep inside. When faced with difficulties, how a person responds makes a big difference.

Larry goes back to school. His dedication and hard work continues by being a good student. He pays attention and works hard at learning the subject material. There is more to Larry than what he reveals.

He takes a step into the unknown. Leaving his old life behind, he ventures on a new journey. Friends come to his aid.

Larry has an inherent motivation to succeed. He takes risks. He’s willing to let go of his comfortable past. He didn’t allow his circumstances to steal his contentment. He changed them.

Tom Hanks on Scooter
Tom Hanks on Scooter | Source

Many are searching for the key to true happiness

Larry Crowne made a new reality in his life. He wasn’t filled with despair. He didn’t dwell on regrets.

He responded positively to his situation. He was willing to change things. He learned to find true peace.

Encouraged by friends, he had support. Willing to take risks, he was prepared for change. Doors opened.

Opportunities were presented and Larry learned some valuable lessons about himself.

He transitioned from being a dedicated content man to being a man filled with purpose. He found his source of happiness.

The 'Larry Crowne' Flop

In life’s search for meaning, Larry Crowne delivers an underlying message that’s pure in form.

Film critics don’t agree. Roger Ebert and others gave the movie review low ratings. They said the film lacked luster and true conflict.

The film is directed by Tom Hanks. Along with Nia Vardalos, Hanks co-wrote the screenplay, Larry Crowne. Hanks plays Larry alongside the “bad teacher”, a role played by Julia Roberts. This romantic comedy also features Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier and Hanks’ real-life wife, actress Rita Wilson.

The theater release flopped at the box office. Why? According to Hollywood standards, Larry Crowne was a flop. It pulled in less than $20 million in the States. An Academy Award winner actor, Hanks could have done better, they said.

So would Hollywood rather feature controversial films, suspenseful tales of fantasy, or thriller blockbusters rather than wholesome movies featuring life lessons, viewers can take away?

In today’s society, Larry Crowne could be anybody. His vulnerability is a lot like many.

Downsizing, loss of jobs and a tough economy has put many people in similar situations. Yet there is much to learn from Larry. His attitude, his willingness, and his risk-taking led him on a journey to find a different set of circumstances.

At the end of the day, Larry found peace. He found true contentment in the midst of his circumstances.

The movie is now available on DVD and Blu-ray release.

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    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 3 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I thought this movie was so relevant, I could relate to Tom Hank's character. It's not uncommon for me to agree with the critics. I would still recommend this movie today. Thanks.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      I think I'll check this movie out. I really like Tom Hanks as an actor. He's taken some chances on certain films which are terrific but not particularly box-office appealing. I also like the major theme of this movie as you have outlined it: that how life changes affects us depends on how we deal with them.

      As far as the critics go, they didn't like "Phantom of the Opera", either, and I thought it was a GREAT movie!

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 5 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you vocalcoach. The critics and hollywood movie reviews were disheartening about this film, however I found some real life lessons that were applicable in today's society.

      For Tom Hanks and Julie Roberts, this movie may not be on their top honors, but I saw a deeper message behind the storyline.

      Thanks for commenting. I definitely recommend this movie. I would especially recommend it for anyone who has had to start a new career after a downsize, or had to reinvent themselves. The movie is inspiring and encouraging.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      FaithDream - This is wonderful! Thank you for introducing this film to me. I will order it from above. You said it all with "He didn’t allow his circumstances to steal his contentment. He changed them." This is the key to happiness and we all must apply this way of thinking when times are challenging,

      I voted up, useful, interesting and awesome!

    • sashas89 profile image

      sashas89 5 years ago from A Series of Tubes

      Faith, as much as I like Tom Hanks as an actor, I don't think he's quite cut out for directing.

      This movie could've done far better if it had a better director at the helm.

    • FaithDream profile image

      FaithDream 6 years ago from (Midwest) USA

      Thank you Ruchira for you words of encouragment. It is much appreciated. Thanks.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

      Faithdream, you have put out a clause which is happening in today's world and given a beautiful example to show us the road to bliss.

      Thank you!