Review: Larry Crowne
We really love Tom Hanks, even the schmaltz of Forrest Gump and the nonsense of The DaVinci Code had us queuing outside the our local multiplexes while he quietly gained our respect in his bolder roles with the likes of Philadelphia and Road To Perdition. Whatever vehicle Hanks appeared in, we happily flocked, which has now amassed into a $9bn worldwide box office gross for the 54-year-old Hollywood legend, a feat never achieved by any other actor on the planet.
In his new film though, Larry Crowne, he spends a lot of his time riding around on a rusty but retro scooter. Unfortunately, like the scooter (and his fashion sense), Hanks’ first foray in directing since 1996’s That Thing You Do is as dated, mechanical and charmless as it gets.
Frankly, “disaster” does even begin to describe this car wreck of a film.
Hanks stars as the title character, Larry Crowne, a divorcee who leads a joyous career in a huge corporate supermarket where he has worked since leaving the navy. But, when the recession hits middle-class America, he is briskly fired due to his lack of education and potential.
Lost and struggling to live (despite not having a family to provide for) he decides to join community college to rebuild his life while he bonds with the out-casts of his class and falling for his lecturer, Mercy Tainot (Julia Roberts), who has exhausted all passion for her career and her marriage.
Larry Crowne is so painfully bad that it’s a struggle to know where to begin just to describe how badly Hanks’ got it wrong with this one.
Firstly, even the least cynical of people in the audience (if this film actually finds one) will find it hard to buy into Larry’s recession affected predicament as we never actually see him struggle except for when he has to sell his flat screen TV (heartbreaking!) and then spends all of thirty seconds trying to find a job.
Therein lies the rub, Hanks’ and co-writer Nia Vardalos’ (responsible for the horrible My Big Fat Greek Wedding and My Life In Ruins) self-indulgent screenplay believes that they’re portraying a honest vision of the affect the credit crisis has had on working class society so accurately that the entire film misses the mark completely, which quickly becomes insulting.
It’s made even the worse by the fact that Crowne is so damn unlikeable that he signs his name with, (yes, you’ve probably guessed it) a crown. The romantic entanglement between Larry and his lecturer, Mercy, is equally uninvolving, not just for the lack of chemistry between the two leads but that Julia Roberts’ character is such a smug bitch that it’s no surprise that her husband (a wasted Bryan Cranston) spends his day masturbating to online porn.
The supporting cast are also detestable as they try to deliver the scripts tortuously unfunny dialogue. Star Trek alumni, George Takei, quips in one scene after taking Larry’s phone in class; “People call these smart phones? But, if you use them in my class, you’re just dumb.” Cue a deathly silence.
Most embarrassing though, everyone finds Larry’s sudden turn into a mid-life crisis so charming that student Talia, terribly acted by British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, invites him to join her scooter gang. It seems in Tom Hanks’ world all college students find middle-aged saps appealing. Be warned for a vomit-inducing scene when Julia Roberts is utterly floored by Hanks’ speech on his Navy days, it’s an awful delight!
Larry Crowne also cements the fact that Tom Hanks cannot direct, every scene is so devoid of any sense of artistry that at times it looks like the cast are reading their lines off a man who’s holding a bit of card behind the camera.
Insipid, narcissistic and lacking any sense of pizzazz, it truly deserves its crown as the worst film of the year. Maybe Hanks, Roberts and co. can take solace in their million dollar bank accounts, while we lesser people suffer in this deriding vanity project.
Larry Crowne opens on 1st July.