Tom Hanks reveals his inner Lance Corona in the light summer romcom Larry Crowne. Julia Roberts co-stars in the prickly-sweet journey to reinvent yourself and claim your dream. The film is now playing at AMC Loews Plainville Theaters, Plainville, CT.
Hanks plays Larry, an Employee of the Month at UMart who tidies the megastore’s parking lot too. Suddenly he’s laid off on the pretense of not having a college degree. A good guy who served as a Navy cook for 20 years, Larry is stunned.
Larry responds to a heartless economy by living from his heart. Larry Crowne is amiable, funny and encouraging, a tribute to middle class Americans. Hanks and Roberts are fine in this upbeat, redemptive tale. Hanks also directs here and co-wrote the script with Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding).
About to lose his home, Larry takes some risks. He enrolls in a few classes at a community college, including Speech 217: The Art of Informal Remarks. To economize, he buys a scooter from his tag sale-savvy neighbor Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and his enterprising wife B’Ella (Taraji P. Henson).
On the first day of class, Larry meets free spirit Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). “You are way cooler than you appear” she says, dubbing him “Lance Corona.” Talia invites Larry to join her “scooter posse.” Soon she gets him a new haircut, a fashion makeover and some feng shui for his cluttered living room.
Larry is instantly captivated by a grumpy, leggy and brilliant speech teacher. Julia Roberts plays pissed off Professor Mercedes Tainot. “I wonder if I make a dollop of difference to anyone sitting in my classroom,” she carps.
The hung over teacher with a marriage on the skids slowly inspires her students to speak with pizzazz. Doling out sardonic critiques after pop topics and fake debates, Mercy is finally moved to smile by finals, especially at her A+ student Larry.
George Takei (Star Trek’s Lieutenant Sulu) achieves great comedic moments as Dr. Ed Matsutani, an economics guru who can rouse his class into a laughter yoga moment. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is appropriately lost as Mercy’s husband, an author turned internet-surfer with a fondness for “big knockers.”
Mbatha-Raw is a bright light in her feature film debut. Talia eventually seeks her fortune by opening a trendy café. Wilmer Valderrama plays her insecure but soulful boyfriend.
In an interview with Collider.com, Valderrama spoke about his family’s struggles after emigrating from Venezuela. Larry Crowne “reminds us that no matter what our situation is, there’s always a way to celebrate life and there’s always a way to start again,” he said.
The upbeat soundtrack includes Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream and Electric Light Orchestra’s Calling America.
Legendary Hanks and Roberts, who also co-starred in Charlie Wilson’s War, have both been producing films lately. Hanks has two films in production, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Cloud Atlas. Roberts will play the Evil Queen in The Brothers Grimm: Snow White.
If you like Larry Crowne, you might enjoy: Eat Pray Love; Just Go With It; Up in the Air.
Larry Crowne 2011 / PG-13 / 1 hour, 39 min
Cast Overview: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier, George Takei
Director: Tom Hanks
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Comedy