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>> Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Straight up, I've always been a fan of Tom Hanks - both in public and film. In public he keeps to himself and seems more or less a humble guy. In films, he's not afraid to have fun and when he wants to be he's a damn good actor. When it comes to Hanks being a writer and a director, he also nails it. The two films he's helmed so far (That Thing You Do! and Larry Crowne) both are similar in that they're both innocent and mean well. You can feel the devotion and love for the projects that Hanks has from script to screen. While his projects aren't groundbreaking or wholly original, it's like spending time with the nicest guy you know - vs. the artsy one. I wouldn't be surprised if Hanks' next film was titled Can't We All Just Get Along?.

That theme is what makes up the majority of Larry Crowne, a film about a divorcee who gets fired from his job forcing him to find a new path in life. He meet cutes his teacher (Julia Roberts) at a community college after he enrolls to further his career. The funny thing about a film description like the one I just gave is that it could easily be both the romantic comedy it is, as well as an Oscar winning drama. The reason it's not the latter, I believe, is simply because Hanks wrote it and simply wants to make people smile. The reason it could be an Oscar drama (and at some points maybe should have) is because it deals with a lot of serious themes like the recession, job loss, middle-aged crisis and reinvention. It's a lot like About Schmidt that way - just less depressing (and less naked Kathy Bates).

Along his journey to a new romance and an adulthood education, Crowne gets a scooter to save on somr gas and runs into a 'scooter gang' at school, who are nice enough to help him along the way. The lead of the gang is played by Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Her roll is to help Crowne update his look and land the leading lady (who just happens to be in a loveless marriage). It's these type of relatively unrealistic circumstances that weigh the light and fluffy Larry Crowne down. If you can get past it though, you shouldn't find a problem having a lot of fun.

The truth of the matter is that like the character it's named after, Larry Crowne doesn't have a mean bone in it's body. It's a delightful, innocent and small film - especially compared to something like Transformers. Yet, a movie that costs hundreds of millions of dollars to produce pales in comparison to the lessons (both life-wise and thematically) one can learn from a film about a middle-aged man struggling to regain his footing.

Larry Crowne gets and open door. Hanks and Roberts are both so terribly charming you can't help but fall under their spell. Is it a funny movie like Bridesmaids was funny? Hell no. So for those of you looking for bathroom humour - look elsewhere. Is it the perfect movie for someone, or anyone really, that's going through a change in their life and needs a little inspiration? Hell to the double yes. Is it a bit hokey? Yup. Are there cliché and cheesy moments? Absolutely. Is it so incredibly lovable, and the perfect film to end long work week with? 100% confirmed.

*Stills courtesy of Universal Pictures


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