DON'T SPREAD this around, but it turns out I'm an old softie. Not only am I the only person I know who was taken with the Larry Crowne trailer, but now that I've seen it, I'm smitten with the movie, too. It's predictable and corny as all hell, but I can't be grumpy. Larry Crowne, let's be pals!
Tom Hanks co-wrote, directed, and stars as Crowne, a recently divorced Navy vet who gets canned from his megastore job because he lacks the education to rise in the company. Determined to never be left in the wind again, Larry goes to community college. He takes classes in economics and public speaking and develops a crush on the cynical speech teacher, Mercedes (Julia Roberts), who's married to a deadbeat, porn-addicted husband (Bryan Cranston). Larry also meets the young and lovely Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a "free spirit" who likes the make of Larry's moped and helps him get hip. With a new style and his natural charm, there ain't no stoppin' Larry!
You don't even need a high school diploma to see where Larry Crowne is going. There's romance on the horizon and a new sense of purpose, for both him and his lady love. Steel yourself against it all you want, but it won't matter: As dopey as Larry Crowne is, Tom Hanks makes it work. The movie is an old-fashioned testament to genuine star power. Larry Crowne sails on the goodwill that Tom Hanks—and yes, even Julia Roberts—has earned over the years. You will like him because everyone else likes him. Who else could put together a supporting cast that includes such high-caliber performers as Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Wilmer Valderrama, George Takei, and goddamn Pam Grier? No one. Just Hanks.
Larry Crowne is a feel-good movie with no qualms about fulfilling its chosen mission. It's not exactly Frank Capra, but its heart is in the same place. Hanks embraces these troubling economic times and tries to make an anodyne for them. The smiles are brief and schmaltzy, sure, but there are still plenty of them.