| 17.4°C Dublin

Hanks scoots in with makeover romance

LARRY CROWNE Drama. Starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts >Mark Evans

WITH the DVD store shelves groaning under the weight of second-rate thrillers and slasher movies, Larry Crowne comes as a breath of fresh air. And you couldn't imagine anyone other than nice-guy actor Tom Hanks taking the lead as Larry, the man down on his luck who finds love in this feel-good offering.

Which is just as well, as it was the idea of Hanks himself -- and he was doing the casting as he was its co-writer and director.

Fired from his job due to a lack of college education, Larry's going through a mid-life crisis, buys a scooter to save on petrol money and enrolls at a local community college in a bid to better himself.

He takes a speech course taught by Mercedes (Julia Roberts) -- and who wouldn't -- and she's sort of lost her mojo too as she struggles with marital problems.


Meanwhile, Larry's learning to love life again, with the help of young student Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who gives him a fashion makeover, and brings him into Mercede's sights as a guy going places.

Which he is -- though on a scooter -- with a funny mix of slackers, the marginalised, has-beens and never-wills.

A timely piece given America's spectacular economic meltdown, it's no heavy-hitting polemic though. It's purely played for its feel-good factor, with Larry displaying that admirable American trait of being able to reinvent and redeem himself, even in middle age.

It's predictably positive, but the romance with Mercedes isn't predictable, and there are laughs, too, along the way.

Just imagine It's a Wonderful Life and you've got the vibe. Smart and adult in its message, it'll give you a lift.

DVD extras: Making-of featurette and a selection of deleted scenes.