Courtesy - The Sunday Leader By Sumaya Samarasinghe
Alright, so here comes my rather challenging task of reviewing “Larry Crowne” which was literally killed by the critics after release.
It was called “bland”, “boring”, “simplistic”, “and lifeless”. So what on earth could have possessed me to watch such a box office and critical fiasco? Well for one thing, it is best to formulate your own opinion on films like on people and how one watches a film depends on what is expected of the movie. Is it for pure entertainment purposes, to gain some extra knowledge on a specific subject or because you are a big fan of the actors?
No doubt ‘Larry Crowne’ does not ooze with an ounce of creativity. The plot is predictable to an extreme and does not move away from the rom com happy ending. Those who wish to analyse further could say that it is about a man who re-invents himself and changes his boring destiny late in life. It is about second chances being possible even when the odds are completely against you. Now doesn’t that sounds slightly more appealing than being called boring and bland?
Tom Hanks is the star and director of ‘Larry Crowne’. He also co-wrote this rather unexciting screenplay with Nia Vardalos who seemed to have lost her entire creative genius after coming up with the hilarious ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ in 2002.
Anyway, Tom comes as Larry an ex-Navy veteran who has been working in retail for several years.
When the company downsizes, they decide to let him go due to his lack of educational qualifications. Larry watches his life slowly fall apart as his divorce seems to have pretty much eaten up all his assets and being on unemployment will not allow him to pay his mortgage.
After an initial and very normal‘collapsing’ time and with a small helping hand from his neighbours Lamar and B’Ella (Cedric the Entertainer Taraji P. Henson both giving wonderful performances), Larry gets his act together. He enrolls in college and trades his petrol eating car for a scooter. He is soon befriended by the lovely Talia who introduces him to her scooter club run by her super jealous boyfriend played by a rather funny Wilmer Valderrama. How realistic is this? Not very and we all know that mature students rarely hang out with 18 year old freshmen, neither are they invited to do so. Adding to the list of improbabilities is the fact that the scooter club members become Larry’s guardian angels who re-arrange his house, his wardrobe and his love life! Our hero discovers that he has a special affinity for economics and is awestruck by his demotivated public speaking teacher played by the lovely Julia Roberts who is like a milder version of Cameron Diaz in “Bad Teacher” ! Even Roberts’s performance was often described as poor, but to be quite honest I thought she was rather good as Mercedes Tainot, a completely jaded university lecturer who drinks herself silly every night because she cannot stand the site of her porn watching loser husband and has lost her passion for teaching.
All she seems to want in life is to cancel class, go home to make herself cocktails and have a hangover next morning.
Does anything else need to be added? It does not even take a seasoned movie watcher to guess the plot and the subplots in less than ten minutes.
But yet, I would still recommend “Larry Crowne” because it is a simple and straightforward film which can be watched after a stressful day at work. Plus one has got so used to associating the more recent romantic comedies with a generally young cast which is unfortunate because a whole range of movie going, money spending public seems to have been forgotten.Gone are the days of ‘ When Harry met Sally’, now most love stories have blood sucking vampires and a cast whose average age is 20!
There is very little evil and negativity in the film, even Mercedes’s porn watching husband looks at women with enormous breasts wearing bikinis!There have been much worse films made than Larry Crowne, but in this case, unfortunately for Hanks, expectations were high in his dual role as a director and actor.
‘Larry Crowne’ will not bring any Oscars home, but if you are looking for some light entertainment, just forget the critics and watch for your own pleasure this nice little romantic comedy which targets a slightly older public.