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Larry Crowne


Full disclosure: I watched this because a former co-worker had a background role as a student in the Speech 217 class – or whatever numbers it was. Larry Crowne is the classic example of something with great parts and a solid concept, but fundamentally breaks down when the story begins.

Grade:

Larry (Tom Hanks, co-writer/director) is downsized from his job at a Costco-esque store due to his lack of academic credentials. He decides to attend community college to make sure this disaster never happens again. In school, he meets free spirits, Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), imbeciles, Steve (Rami Malek) and unenthusiastic teachers, Mercedes (Julia Roberts). Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson and Wilmer Valderrama also co-star.

You’d think a film written by the talents of Nia Vardalos and Tom Hanks would have more depth to its characters and intrigue to its plot, but those facets just never appear. Larry is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet and there is almost nothing negative to say about him, which is the biggest problem. Having your main character be so lovably pathetic in his inability to do wrong, the audience loses focus and interest. I struggled to retain my interest after the initial twenty minutes because I knew right away there would be no real arc to Larry’s character. He is the quintessential static character.

Actually, to be frank, every character except Mercedes is unbelievably static. Talia is always eccentric and free-spirited. Steve is always struggling to focus on his studies, but is an all-around decent guy. Even Mercedes’ porn-loving husband, Dean (Bryan Cranston), stays a grumpy, struggling writer with a heightened libido from start to finish.

As mentioned, Mercedes is the only one who changes over the course of the film, but her personality transformation is entirely unexplained. One minute she hates anything and everything; the next she is in love with life. Most of us know from experience that one margarita does not change life beyond that night – or day (no judgment).

The one saving grace for Larry Crowne is a surprisingly endearing ending. It is completely predictable and nothing extraordinary, but you will probably find yourself inexplicably more interested in the final ten-fifteen minutes than the rest of the film combined. Ultimately, Larry Crowne is not an exceptionally bad film. There is just very little that occurs for a film that relies heavily on the main character’s progression – or lack thereof. So I guess you could argue it is poorly made with regards to its target message.

Note: You get literally everything you need from the trailer below.

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  1. I was actually watching this last night but I had to give up when the download kept stalling. I haven’t decided if I should go back and finish it yet…

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