Larry Crowne

Directed By: Tom Hanks

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

He's starred opposite a volleyball named Wilson in a riveting survival drama.  He's played a gay lawyer afflicted with AIDS who struggles to find justice on his death bed.  He's even portrayed a mentally challenged yet charming Southerner who runs across America from one adventure to another.  Tom Hanks is undoubtedly the most likable guy in Hollywood.  She's played a hooker rescued by her knight in shining armor on a white horse.  She's played a runaway bride and a best friend of the groom.  She's even fought against an energy company that contaminated a neighborhood's water supply and inflicted immeasurable environmental damage for decades.  Julia Roberts has definitely had a huge career as an actress.  Now, she joins forces with Tom Hanks in the romantic comedy Larry Crowne.  You would expect big things to happen with these two megastars.  Unfortunately for my bar tab, that's not the case.

Navy vet Larry Crowne (Hanks) has been working at a retail store for many years since retiring from his duties as a culinary specialist for the armed forces.  For his dedicated service in retail, he's not been rewarded handsomely.  When the company decides to restructure, they let Larry go.  Larry's lack of a college degree prevents him from advancing further up the retail chain's hierarchy.  Now unable to afford his home after his divorce, he must liquidate his assets and opts to do so through a yard sale while he’s unemployed.  When his fast-talking neighbor Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) learns of his troubles, he recommends that Larry enroll in a community college to get the education he needs to compete in the job market today.

When Larry arrives at the campus of the college, he meets fellow student Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw).  After a couple of minutes of conversation on the parking lot, they become friends instantly.  Later, Larry meets the dean of the college, Dave Busik (Holmes Osbourne), who recommends that Larry take several courses including Economics, Speech, and Composition.  The film centers on his Economics and Speech courses.  In his Economics course, Larry finds a familiar classmate, his new friend Talia, and Dr. Ed Matsutani (George Takei), a professor who is completely against students using cellphones during his lectures.  In his Speech course, Larry meets Mercedes "Mercy" Tainot, a professor who cares as much about her students as they do about her.  At the outset, that's very little. Soon, however, Larry and Mercy find themselves caring about each other more than any teacher and student ever should.

With its star power, Larry Crowne should have been so much better.  For two veterans who wrote the book on romantic comedies with films like Sleepless in Seattle and Pretty Woman, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts really drop the ball here.  There's hardly any romance, and there's not one damn funny thing in the movie.  Hanks and Roberts have great romantic chemistry on screen...for the 30 seconds of romance that are actually in the flick.  Neither of them deliver any laughs either, and their supporting cast can't help them out. 

Tom Hanks could have done much better than this.  At his age and with his résumé, he should be approaching a legendary status as an esteemed actor.  He's too old to be playing some dumb, middle-aged guy who has to go back to community college in a fairly worthless romantic comedy.  He should be taking on roles that cement his legacy as an actor.  He should be doing something to show that the most likable guy in Hollywood is still one of the best damn actors in town.  Instead, he's Larry Crowne with an 'e', a bumbling buffoon that babbles too much on stuff about which nobody gives a damn.

Julia Roberts is the queen of the romantic comedy.  She has been in ten too many rom coms for my taste, but she used to know how to make good ones.  Now, she's reduced to playing a cliché, unsavory character.  We've seen plenty of teachers from hell, and I can assure you that Mrs. Tingle or Elizabeth Halsey could beat Mrs. Tainot any day of the week.  The only time she's remotely interesting is when she shares the screen with Bryan Cranston who plays her husband Dean.  She's supposed to be a diva we like on screen.  Instead, her character is a rather annoying bitch.

Larry Crowne let me down big time.  With Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, and Taraji P. Henson, I expected something at least entertaining. I want to forget the fact that I watched this flick.  I need to grab some mind erasers to get me over this crap.  Larry Crowne gets a wasted rating.  Drink up if you dare!