Sunday, February 12, 2012

Review: Larry Crowne

Here is a one-line synopsis about the movie Larry Crowne.  The film is about a really nice guy who is recently divorced, recently laid off, and short on money.  All one hundred minutes of the movie play out in a fashion as bland and ordinary as that synopsis.  Beyond that, I don’t know that I feel compelled to expound much further.  The film runs about one hundred minutes and as those minutes melt away, you get the impression that Tom Hanks – as the director- intends it to be precisely so, as if such an approach gives the proceedings the feeling of authenticity.  Ultimately, it just feels like lazy filmmaking.

Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are the two draws to this movie but their cache is not enough to keep this film from plunging into the depths of apathy.  In fact, their presence detracts from what few merits there are about this film, as clearly their respective star powers have diminished.  What makes it onto screen are two performances completely void of the vitality and charisma that planted Hanks and Roberts firmly onto the A-list – this seemingly the result of years of complacency combined with Nia Vardalos’ and Tom Hanks’ milquetoast script.  It is not quite to the level of watching the 1972-version of Willie Mays stumbling around the outfield as a New York Met, but their respective drop offs are palpable. 

Hanks is at his tolerable best when he is acting opposite Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s Talia, who shines as Crowne’s youthful newfound life coach.  She is funny and her free spirit brings energy to the middling proceedings.  The strength of their dynamic though is problematic to the film, because the chemistry between Hanks and Roberts – which is supposed to be the driving force in the film – pales in comparison.  In fact, the best scenes in the movie are those that involve the supporting cast.  Rami Malek, Malcom Barret, George Takei, and Wilmer Valderama inject a little bit of life and some light-hearted humor to offset the real world issues plaguing the protagonists.

You really do not need to see this movie.  You probably know someone who is living Larry Crowne’s life and probably doing so in a much more interesting fashion.  If this movie is to be viewed, then in my mind it is best watched on cable on a night when you find yourself in front of the television with some other work to do.  If you are a Julie Roberts fan, then you’re better off avoiding this one and waiting for the much-anticipated Mirror, Mirror.  As for Hanks, he can be seen in the Oscar nominated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Standout Performance: Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Talia turns in a refreshing performance.


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