Business rating: 1/5 stars
Star cast: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts.
Plot: After losing his job, a middle-aged man (Tom Hanks) signs up for college. In college, he makes friends and falls in love with his teacher (Julia Roberts).
What’s Good: Tom Hanks’ performance; the pleasant background score.
What’s Bad: The routine script; the absence of any conflict in the story; the overall lack of entertainment.
Verdict: Larry Crowne is a below average fare. It will fail to make any mark at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: None.
Watch or Not?: Watch only if you are a fan of Tom Hanks. But beware that Larry Crowne is not as dramatic or entertaining as his other films.
Playtone’s Larry Crowne is the story of a simple, hardworking man, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks). Larry, who has been the employee of the month many times at the supermarket where he works, is booted out of his job because he doesn’t meet the educational qualifications required for a promotion. Out of job, and unable to find another opening, Larry also faces the burden of a bank loan he has to repay. To save money, Larry buys a second-hand scooter from his neighbour, Lamar (Cedric The Entertainer), who asks Larry to join college to improve his job prospects.
So Larry joins a local community college and signs up for a course in public speaking. At college, he becomes friends with a high-spirited girl, Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and joins her gang of scooter-riders. Talia grows fond of Larry even though her own boyfriend does not approve of this. She even does a makeover for Larry. Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) is Larry’s public speaking teacher, who is going through a rough phase in her marriage and has lost interest in teaching. Larry and his nervous classmates learn the art of public speaking from the reluctant teacher, who grows more interested in teaching them as she slowly grows fond of Larry. But she believes that Larry is going out with Talia. Soon, Larry also starts liking Mercedes. One night, after a fight with her husband, Mercedes is dropped home by Larry. They come close to sleeping with each other that night.
Larry, who is a former navy cook, also takes up a job at a local restaurant to keep the wolf away from the door. Soon, he declares himself bankrupt and moves into a new house. In the meantime, Mercedes realises that Larry and Talia are not in a relationship. With the course coming to an end, Talia expects that Larry will continue the course into the next semester. But Larry does not turn up in class. What happens next?
Larry Crowne could have been many things – a feel-good film, a comedy, a romance – but it ends up being none of the above because of the confused script (by Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos). The story has a few interesting characters, but the absence of any conflict makes it tedious to watch. The protagonist, Larry Crowne’s characterisation as a just-another-nice-guy also leaves a lot to be desired. That Larry is a divorced ex-navy cook, who has fallen on hard times, but there is hardly anything that troubles him, is difficult to believe.
The character of Mercedes’ porn-surfing husband is ridiculous. Moreover, why Mercedes hates her husband so much, and is thus pushed into Larry’s arms, is also not explained well enough.
On the plus side, scenes of Larry and his friends riding their scooters are cute but add little value to the drama. A few comic sequences in the classroom – especially when the economics professor, Dr. Matsutani (George Takei), cracks his peculiar jokes – bring a smile on the viewer’s face. Apart from this, nothing works in favour of the film, not even the chemistry between Larry and Mercedes.
Tom Hanks performs well as the simple, nice guy. Julia Roberts supports him well although her faulty and unexplained characterisation leaves much to be desired. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (as Talia) and George Takei (as Dr. Matsutani) perform with panache. Cedric The Entertainer (as Lamar), Traji P. Henson (as Lamar’s wife), Wilmer Valderrama (as Talia’s boyfriend) and Rami Malek (as Steve) support well.
Director Tom Hanks attempts to make a feel-good film but forgets that the audience expects to be entertained. The film is not bad, it’s just that it doesn’t inspire the audience to sit up and take notice. James Newton Howard’s background score is pleasing to the ears and goes well with the easy-going mood of the narrative. Philippe Rousselot’s cinematography is fair. Alan Cody’s editing is average.
On the whole, Larry Crowne is a below-average fare that does not entertain at all. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts’ names may pull some people into the theatres, but the film’s routine script will seal its fate at the box-office in India.
Larry Crowne releases in India on 8 July, 2011.