Friday, 1 July 2011


Larry Crowne [Review]

Opinion: B

Hopping onto the Director's chair after 15 years, Tom Hanks has another hand at making movies besides merely acting them. While each individual plot chapter feels comfortably at ease with entertaining scenarios scripted, the entire film feels somewhat disorientated as the dots aren't connected well. This leads to an unsatisfying touch to what could have been an interesting feature film by one of the greatest actors in Hollywood.

Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts reunite for a dramatic comedy about how the hard knocks from today's recession inspire one everyday guy to undergo a personal reinvention: Larry Crowne.

Until he was downsized, affable, amiable Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) was a superstar team leader at the big-box company where he's worked since his time in the Navy. Underwater on his mortgage and unclear on what to do with his suddenly free days, LArry heads to his local college to start over. There he becomes part of a colourful community of outcasts, also-rans and the overlooked all trying to find a better future for themselves... often moving around town in a herd of scooters. In his public-speaking class, Larry develops an unexpected crush on his teacher Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), who has lost as much passion for teaching as she has for her husband.

The simple guy who has every reason to think his life has stalled will come to learn an unexpected lesson: when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might discover your reason to live.

Do you still remember the 1996 wonder That Thing You Do! that got us very excited over? It was a Tom Hanks' film and everybody is probably wondering why did it take him a good 15 years or so to come up with his next feature film. So how will Larry Crowne fare?

Scene after scene, we indulge in the characters' interaction and especially their conversations. There's lots of them and thanks to an adequate script written by Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos (of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame), we are treated to some interesting scenes that reminds a little of The Terminal where situational conversations were key pivotal elements.

Hanks is very much a magnetic screen presence as much as Julia Roberts, the both of them are able to drive the film forward without effort as Hollywood veterans. At their age, they really do look magnificently gorgeous and might induce some jealousy among some of us. Who would have thought that both of them can actually reunite so quickly (in our rejoice) once more (this time as a silver screen couple) ever since Charlie Wilson's War?

Perhaps a hindsight on not developing more scenes between Crowne and Tainot, we are instead treated to more scenes of Crowne and the rest of the cast. Not that there's anything wrong with that, in fact we thoroughly enjoyed almost every supporting character in this film. There's even a very bizarre Japanese professor (who goes by the name Ed Matsutani) who teaches Crowne economics. I thought that was some hilarious character scripting there, you've got to watch out for that guy!

But when it's time for us to see Tainot and Crowne together, we just couldn't buy it.

Roberts is somewhat restricted and subtle as her underwritten role wasn't expanded as we love it to be. There wasn't much to her character and it made it even harder for the love interest of Hanks to be accepted by the audience. We don't see how their love blossom (nor their friendship), not even close. But don't get me wrong, Roberts is a mesmerising gem in this film nevertheless.

A drunken silly moment of rash got the both of them together and thereafter a romantic chemistry between them? No, I don't think so. Running at 99 minutes, could it be better for this film to extend beyond and include more of Tainot and Crowne? I'd like to think so, because Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks really do make a great couple and I think nobody would complain of having too much of them.

After all, it's a romantic comedy (or did I get that wrong?).

Aside from the loose plot structure, it's great to see Tom Hanks again. If you don't mind the disjointed general story arc, each scene is easily a watchable delight and I think this is where the film really shines. There's something so affable about Hanks that makes him one of the greatest silver screen presence we'd never get weary of.

1 comment:

  1. I would dearly love to see this as I am a fan of both. However, with my theater budget severely limited, it'll have to wait.

    Excellent and thorough review. You point out some really interesting things, such as Julia's restricted role, that I'll be thinking about when I do get around to seeing this.


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