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Larry Crowne movie poster

Larry Crowne: Movie Review


Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Tom Hanks

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Bryan Cranston, George Takei
Released by: Universal Pictures


In Short: Writer-director-producer Tom Hanks stars in this story about the unemployed and middle-aged Larry Crowne, who goes back to college where he meets new friends, new love and the new Larry.

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BACK TO SCHOOL

Hanks and Roberts Finally Go to College

There's an underlying irony to the new romantic comedy "Larry Crowne," the tale of an unemployed middle-aged man who goes back to college in order to make himself more competitive in the job market. It's not actually on the screen, but resonates somehow across the film.

The irony is that neither multi-millionaire writer-director-producer Tom Hanks (who plays Larry Crowne) nor his equally rich co-star Julia Roberts (who plays Mercedes Tainot) ever finished college. Roberts actually never even went at all. But the two Oscar-winning actors sure know how to pretend. The setting of "Larry Crowne" is a community college, and one that actually has a few classes that are not jammed with people, including the Speech 101 course that student Larry takes from his professor Mercedes.

Their romance develops over the course of a semester, as Larry begins his collegiate experience. He meets up with a beautiful young co-ed (with the amazing real-life name of Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her scooter-riding crowd, starts to figure out how he's going to survive (mostly by downsizing and selling off all his stuff), and transforms into a different human being by the time his first load of classes comes to a conclusion.

Tom Hanks in Larry Crowne Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in Larry Crowne

Meanwhile, Mercedes' life is crumbling around her, as her marriage disintegrates and her calling as an educator takes a battering. She's a really unhappy person, and Julia Roberts is surprisingly believable as this disgruntled, depressed professor who often takes refuge in a blender full of margaritas.

As the two Hollywood megastars move inevitably closer to getting together, there's much in "Larry Crowne" that veers a bit toward the corny or slightly unbelievable, and no Academy Award nominations are likely to come knocking for this one. Overall it is a gentle examination of how losing a job when you're over 50 can sometimes — with the power of the fantasy of the movies — lead you on to better things. It's an idea we'd all like to believe in. By the time the credits roll, Larry Crowne hasn't solved all his problems, but at least he's got a girlfriend. Most importantly, this isn't a film that anyone needs to rush out to see in a movie theater. It will play just as well on your DVD player at home, kind of like a Lifetime channel flick that just happens to have two really big (albeit aging) Hollywood stars in the leading roles.

 

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

 



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(Updated: 06/30/11 CT)

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