Steen: Five star actors can’t guarantee a 5-star movie

Larry Crowne

I didn’t want to be underwhelmed, but I was.

After Tom Hanks’ character, Larry Crowne, is summarily fired from a large retail store, he tries to better himself by enrolling at East Valley Community College and taking course 217—The Art of Informal Remarks.

The cast of characters, particularly Julia Roberts (Mercedes Tainot), were bland to the point of boring, with one exception being Roberts’ on-screen husband, played by Bryan Cranston. He alone seems to be believable as the layabout, web surfing, porno seeking egotist and I think this works because Cranston hasn’t been over-exposed in film.

To cast’s two stars play a cynical professor with a drinking problem (Roberts) and an affable, but clueless middle aged Mr. Average (Hanks). Neither is romantic nor comedic.

This was a little like Forrest Gump meets Mrs. Robinson, in a weird way. We get no sense that these two will have a future because, save for one bawdy kissing scene, there is nothing on the screen but friendship—we are left thinking that at any moment, Hanks and Roberts will burst out laughing, which if it happened, would provide the only real laugh of the whole show.

It was interesting to see 74-year-old George Takei of Star Trek fame as a really creepy economics professor and Cedric the Entertainer (Cedric Kyles) as a perpetual hawker of second hand wares.

Larry Crowne is a collaboration between Hanks and Canadian Nia Vardalos. The 2002, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was a previous collaboration. This movie had none of the rich character and comedy that MBFGW was so noted for.

There were two memorable moments, however; seeing Hanks in his tighty whities, and the aforementioned kissing scene with Hanks and Roberts.

The best line from the film: “…we used to, until Facebook and Twitter killed whatever attention span they had,” but even this brought only faint chuckles from those in attendance, who had already figured out that this is not going to win any awards and the best thing you can say is that it’s “light” entertainment.

I really wanted to be entertained here. I wasn’t and I won’t waste any more ink on this review—save your money, there is better viewing coming up in July. A couple to watch for: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and Page One, a year inside the New York Times.

Final word, we love Hanks, we love Roberts, but we don’t love Larry Crowne.

One movie reel is generous.

Susan Steen is a local non-profit executive and movie buff.




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