Published On: Mon, Jul 11th, 2011

‘Larry Crowne’ Movie Review


“You need a college education,” I can remember my parents telling me. Heck, I can hear me telling my son the same thing. Nowadays you can’t even get your foot in the door of a job interview without a little post high school knowledge. This fact is painfully pointed out to Larry Crowne (Hanks), a nine time winner of the Employee of the Week award at the local U-Mart. Thinking he’s about to win number ten, Larry struts into the boss’ office and minutes later slowly slinks out. With almost two decades in the Navy behind him and still struggling with the financial burdens of a recent divorce, Larry is convinced by his neighbor (Cedric the Entertainer) to go back to school. And the education he receives in life is much greater than any he hoped to achieve.

Smartly directed by Hanks, “Larry Crowne” is a fine comedy that is the perfect recipe for those looking to avoid Super Heroes and giant robots at their local cinema. Like 1996’s “That Thing You Do,” Hanks performs triple duty here, appearing both behind and in front of the camera while co-writing the screenplay with “My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s” Nia Vardalos. While Larry is learning he’s also teaching those around him, including Ms. Tainot (Roberts), whose lack of interest in her class is only matched by her lack of interest for her stay at home, book writing husband (Bryan Cranston). The only time her mood improves is when she does roll call and discovers less than ten students in attendance. This low turnout allows her to cancel class and head home to the liquor cabinet and the blender. Roberts has always been a fine light comedienne and director Hanks gives her room to prove her chops. Larry also runs into a group of young adults who freely include him in their discussions. Cool girl Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) introduces Larry to her scooter-riding pals and even renames him the much cooler moniker of Lance Corona. Their fellow classmates are an important part of the story, as is Larry’s economics professor, played broadly (and hilariously) by “Star Trek’s” George Takei. As an educator who has never met a cell phone he liked, Takei is a welcome presence on screen. The script has the usual assortment of “types” for Hanks to play off and they all perform adequately. The soundtrack is primarily a mixture of ELO and Tom Petty and the music fits perfectly the on screen action. As Larry learns about life and, yes, love, the audience gains a small education as well. Follow his lead and maybe you too can one day be the teacher’s pet!

Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and George Takei
Directed by: Tom Hanks
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 39 mins

Warner BrothersMOVIE MIKES
SCORE: 3 1/2  out of 5 stars

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