Release date: July 1st, 2011
Written by: Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos
Directed by: Tom Hanks
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric the Entertainer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bryan Cranston, and George Takei
When I first saw the trailer, it was like I sighed for a consecutive two minutes. It was just two and half minutes of Tom Hanks embarrassing himself. Watching Larry Crowne this afternoon, it was like I sighed for a consecutive hour and a half. It was an hour and a half of Tom Hanks embarrassing himself. I didn’t expect it to be good, in fact, I barely expected mediocrity, but man, I had no idea what I was in for.
So the film starts with the titular character (Tom Hanks) getting fired from his retail job at what is essentially a Walmart. His former employers tell Crowne the main reason is because he doesn’t have a college education. So he starts going to college, where he meets a young girl (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who gives him a “cool” makeover. Larry also begins to fall for his Speech Professor Mrs. Tainot. Kill me.
One thing you might be thinking is, “It can’t be that bad, I mean, how can you not like Tom Hanks?” I like Tom Hanks as much as the next guy, and before going into Larry Crowne, I heard people say it was hard to not like Hanks in it because he’s so inoffensive. But I disagree. I hated his character. He was an annoying pushover who I could not get behind at all. The movie assumes that just because the character is a nice guy in an unfortunate situation he’ll be an interesting protagonist. The movie assumed wrong.
While Crowne annoyed me, he doesn’t have a thing on Mrs. Tainot, played by Julia Roberts. I have nothing against her as an actress, but I hated her character with a passion. And this isn’t the good kind of hate either, it’s not like Paul the pompous dick in Midnight in Paris who was suppose to be disliked. Here, we’re suppose to like Mrs. Tainot. Why am I suppose to like a selfish alcoholic who treats her husband (Bryan Cranston) horribly and seems to hate everyone. And the husband detail is important since the movie wants it’s audience to hate this guy, and side with Mrs. Tainot. So why is Mrs. Tainot so angry with her husband? Because his main source of income is blogging and he looks it porn. Wow…sounds like a real jerk to me too (MASSIVE amounts of sarcasm). She comes home early, catches him looking at porn and freaks out on him. He responds by saying that he was a guy alone doing what guys do. He makes a good argument. In fact, whenever they fought, I found myself siding with the husband. He isn’t perfect, but he seemed a decent guy, and his wife was just such a stone cold b****. Plus, we bloggers gotta stick together.
How’s the supporting cast? Annoying, just like everything else. They all try too hard and are painfully unfunny. Probably the worst example is Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Crowne’s “quirky” friend Talia. She is so obnoxious you just wanna punch her. Quickly after meeting Larry, she starts telling him what he can and can’t wear, moves all his belongings around how she thinks they should look, and to top it off gives him the new name of “Lance Corolla”. All these characters just sort of shrug this off as, “Oh that’s Talia.” Thing is, it’s not funny, it’s not amusing, it’s not cute, it’s annoying. REALLY annoying. The only exception to this rule the only character, hell, the only thing I like at all in this movie is George Takei as Larry’s economics teacher. He had a bit role, and he made me laugh. Mr. Takei, for that I love you. I’d like to think you sent the following video to Tom Hanks shortly after production wrapped on this film.
Apart from all the characters, the story is painfully boring. Why? There is no real conflict. No dramatic tension of any kind. Once the husband story is done, it’s literally just a bunch of people that like each other hanging around. In order for a story to work you need some kind of tension, some kind of drama, and there’s none of that here. The film introduces things that you think will be the cause of conflict. Because of this, there’s no real message to take out from anything. Nobody really had to struggle for anything and therefore it doesn’t feel like anything was accomplished.
Oh and the humor of the film, my god was it awful, with the exception of Takei of course. Literally the humor is mostly just, “Tom Hanks sure look silly doing blank.” Examples: “Tom Hanks sure looks silly riding a scooter.” “Tom Hanks sure looks silly wearing those clothes.” “Tom Hanks sure looks silly dancing.” Guess what movie, that’s really not funny. In fact it’s incredibly lame. Apart from Takei, I did not laugh once. I’d smile on the off thing, and then feel a deep sense of shame and guilt that something in Larry Crowne amused me, even slightly.
Don’t see this movie, it’s so awful it’s baffling. Watching it just made me mad at Tom Hanks. Not only is he acting in this schlock, but he wrote, produced, and directed it too. Really Tom? Was this story really worth telling? It’s not like you need the money, or a role that would appeal to critics. So I can’t see what else motivated him unless he genuinely believed this was a good story. I’m sorry to say this Tom, but it isn’t, it really isn’t. In fact it’s in the running for the worst film I’ve seen all year.