Film Review: Larry Crowne

A rare directorial feature from Tom Hanks, Larry Crowne is a warm-hearted comedy. It is likeable in its inoffensiveness and an enjoyable watch.

Larry Crowne is a popular colleague at the retail store he works at. When he loses his job, he decides to go to college, having joined the navy from school instead of going to university. Enrolling in a public speaking course at the community college, Larry meets interesting new friends as well as teacher Ms Tainot…

Larry Crowne is unlikely to have an astronomical impact on cinema. It is, however, a fun movie that should charm audiences. There was always a danger that the film would succumb to unadulterated schmaltz, given its premise, genre and stars. Larry Crowne manages to steer clear of this for the most part, thanks to the screenplay by Hanks and Nia Vardalos. The film is cute without being too cheesy.

The comedy in the film is light with occasional bursts. This is as expected, and in keeping with the tone of the movie. There are some amusing references, as well as some delightful banter. Larry plays the straight man to the amusing ensemble cast more often than not. Ms Tainot and her interactions with her class are a good source of humour.

Some of the themes touched upon by Larry Crowne are very contemporary; the effects of the recession on middle-aged men will be pertinent to today’s audience. Nevertheless, the film has a timeless quality. Aside from a few references, no doubt Larry Crowne will be just as enjoyable for audiences of the future.

Hanks brings a light touch to his direction. There are some nice shots, Larry looking at Lamar and Bella in his rear window for example. This scene in particular is suggestive of the replication of Larry’s adolescent journey. Parallels between Larry’s choices and that of a young adult are clear, although it is never overtly referenced. This is a nice touch, with the film appearing like a love letter to Hanks’ character in 1988’s Big (whether intentional or not).

Tom Hanks is as amiable as ever as the title character. Julia Roberts brings her usual charisma as Ms Tainot. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is also appealing as Talia, while Wilmer Valderrama is amusing as Dell Gordo. Casting is great, with George Takei bringing laughs as Dr Matsutani. Dave Mack is underused as Michael.

Larry Crowne‘s brand of comedy and romance will not appealing to everyone. However, the film is lovingly crafted, and is an entertaining diversion.