Forrest is all old now, and out of a job.
After being laid off from his longtime job at a soulless retail giant, average middle-aged guy Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) decides it’s time to change up his life, so he heads back to college. There, he finds a new perspective — and a new romance with a professor (Julia Roberts).
This is Tom Hank’s big return to the director’s chair after almost 14 years, and although it’s not a perfect welcome back, I still have to say that I’m glad he’s still happy.
The screenplay was co-written by Hanks and buddy Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), and for the most part it had me smiling more than I actually rolled my eyes. What I liked about this film is how it was sort of a comedy, with just the slightest hint of romance, but in the end it was about a dude re-discovering himself amidst this huge recession the country is going through.
For the most part, I liked watching Larry Crowne just interact with everybody around him and just go about his day with such a smile, and mainly because it had me going on through this film with a smile as well myself. There were a couple of chuckles here and there but to say the least, it’s nothing hilarious which isn’t really what this film was gunning for.
However, there still are plenty of problems to be had with this one. I thought this was a cute little movie, but there were too many parts where I felt like this film just had the forced “cuteness” to it. Like the snapping motorcycle gang, or the romance with Roberts and Hanks, and the little supporting characters that chime in every once and awhile. This sort of bothered me because I didn’t think the film had many fresh ideas that could actually be viewed as funny, so instead Hanks and Vardalos just aimed for sweet and thought they could get away with it. Not so much.
I also still don’t know why this film is being hugely advertised as a rom-com when the whole romantic angle only comes in the film when there’s only 30 minutes left. Once the romance gets started, you know exactly where it’s going from there, which is no surprise to anyone who goes to see a romantic comedy in today’s world. They could have left that angle totally out of the film, or done something with Roberts’ character that would make her less of a romantic lead and more of a bigger part of the story that had to do with Larry Crowne’s impact on the others around him.
Tom Hanks is still incredibly likable no matter what here as Larry Crowne. In some ways, it would have been very creepy watching this 50-year old guy walk around with kids 20 years younger than him, but Hanks just has that appeal that makes it seem less strange and more cool. Hanks is a pro no matter what, and he makes Larry Crowne so damn likable that I just wanted to hang with him more throughout this film. Julia Roberts is playing her usual hot and sexy, but still sassy and spicy diva as the always drunken teacher Mercedes Tainot. Roberts has that appeal about her that even though she’s playing a bitch she still knows how to make her character so damn likable despite her looks. These two chemistry feels easy and relaxed to work with which really benefited a lot of their scenes together.
The rest of the supporting cast is filled with a whole bunch of crazy names like Wilmer Valderrama (could have swore he was dead), George Takei, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, and Taraji P. Henson. They all do a good job but I have to say that I was incredibly surprised by a really good performance from this chick named Gugu Mbatha-Raw (a name I still can’t pronounce). She’s cute, funny, and keeps the film’s heart running the whole time. Hope to see more of her.
Consensus: With it’s problem’s of being way too cute for no reason, Larry Crowne may not be the funniest thing to see, but the cast, especially an always likable Hanks, a cool and relaxed pace, and good themes make this a good watch for people who just had their mid-life crisis’, as well as for people who just want a smile.