Thursday 23 November 2017

Film Review: Larry Crowne * * *

General Release, 12A

Tom Hanks
co-wrote and directed this
quirky but cloying film
Tom Hanks co-wrote and directed this quirky but cloying film
Tom Hanks co-wrote and directed this quirky but cloying film

Edel Coffey

Best buds and former co-stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts have teamed up again for Larry Crowne, a romantic comedy set in the recession.

Tom Hanks' eponymous hero Larry is a middle-aged man who is suddenly laid off from his job in a hardware store. Suffering the economic burden of a costly divorce, he is faced with losing his home, his car and his sense of self.

With no plan B, he enrolls in the local community college, where he takes a class in public speaking headed by the beautiful but disillusioned Ms Tainot (Julia Roberts).

Ms Tainot has given up on the idea that she might make a difference to any of her students. At home, things aren't much better, as her husband spends the day surfing porn websites and she drowns it all out with a giant jug of Margarita mix in the evenings.

When Ms Tainot's cynicism is met with Larry's good nature, more remarkable due to the hardships he has borne, she is forced to address why she is so unhappy and why she has not changed her situation.

One amusing aspect of the film that really could only have come from the mind of a superstar actor is the friendship between Larry and the young, beautiful student Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who gives him a makeover and initiates him into her cool scooter gang.

Perhaps these things really do happen to anonymous, slacks-wearing men, but it seems more like the kind of thing that would happen to a middle-aged famous actor.

The film is co-written and directed by Hanks, and he also self-financed the project, having been rejected by two big-name studios.

When Roberts first saw the script, she said: "It's topical, but very positive." And that's the truth. It falls into that syrupy feel-good category of the old-school American philosophy that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

But it's all laid on just a little too thick, which is a shame because there are meaningful, positive messages here and, when it's not being cloying, this is a sweet and quirky film with a charming, old-fashioned nature.

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