It’s nice to know that among all the new actors making their (skid) marks in the movie world, some of the older actors and actresses are still getting chances to show off what they’ve earned. Larry Crowne does not have the same Tom Hanks from Big or Turner and Hooch, nor does it have the same Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman or Steel Magnolias. Fantastic performers in those films from a bygone era, these artists have honed their skills and show it off in this great new comedy.
Hanks plays the title character Larry Crowne, a manager at a Wal-Martesque store until he is fired for choosing to spend 20 years as a Navy chef instead of going to college in his younger years. He decides that he never wants his lack of college education to hold him back again, so he enrolls in community college. There he meets fellow scooter enthusiast Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dr. Who), as well as Roberts, who plays Mercedes Tainot, a hot communications teacher. Both women aid Hanks in turning from loser to winner.
A lot of comedies like to poke fun at anyone over the age of 40 who tries to figure out how to use the technology that those under 40 love, such as texting. Lately it’s started to come across as a bit overdone since nearly every comedy has at least one joke about the generational gap, but Larry Crowne pulls off the joke in such a way that it actually brings new life to it. Hanks and Roberts aren’t incompetent in their respective worlds, they just aren’t that gaga for Google. Roberts has a husband in the film who keeps trying to over-talk his blogging job which Roberts completely calls him out on, as well as his porn addiction.
The best part of this film is just seeing Roberts and Hanks do what they do best: own the screen. These are two people who can take two subtle, interesting characters and make them dazzle masterfully. When both characters are on screen together, their chemistry could light a volcano. The dopey middle-aged student and the exhausted middle-aged teacher make such a unique combo that Larry Crowne may create a new genre. This is a film that sadly might not get a lot of box office revenue but will definitely win Oscars.
Don’t be mistaken about this film. It’s a comedy with a romance in it but it isn’t a romantic comedy. Romantic comedies usually have one idiot trying to get in bed with another idiot while a third idiot tries to break up the entire process. This film has things that romantic comedies have never even heard of, like character development and jokes that don’t have to do with sex.
Larry Crowne is rated PG-13 for the porn reference and the fact that its storyline would go over the heads of most kids.