Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Larry Crowne

Film #227

THE PLOT

After losing his job, a middle-aged man reinvents himself by going back to college.

Year 1, Day 224

BEFORE: Continuing with romantic movies, I return to a pre-planned film this time with Larry Crowne. It was directed by Tom Hanks and stars both himself as the titular character and Julia Roberts. The reviews for it are not good at all (34% on the Tomatometer) but it has Tom Hanks so I’m going in with some hope for the film.

AFTER: Promise is what Larry Crowne has a lot of but the film fails to live up to it. Instead it takes the ball and drops it, flat on the pavement. It starts off as a typical romantic comedy, a ho-hum plot with decent characters. But by the end you’re left puzzled as to where this meandering film started and what the point was.

I will say that the film isn’t all bad; it’s just very subpar and with a very expansive genre, you really need something special to stick out among the others. And there is definitely the potential. The losing a job and ensuing problems plot is old-hat these days but the added twist of having Larry Crowne being a middle-aged man who never went to college presented a plethora of opportunities. And things were going ok until shortly after Crowne’s first day of classes. The characters weren’t the strongest ever but you learned who they were and could enter their world a bit. A great setup and introduction but it’s the follow up where great work early on can fall apart.

To make a long story short, there was just too much this film tried to accomplish and it all happened after that first day of class. There was Larry’s relationship with Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and the scooter gang (and accompanying conflict with Dell Gordo (Wilmer Valderrama)), his two classes with Mrs. Tainot (Julia Roberts) and Dr. Matsutani (George Takei), the interactions with his yard-sale neighbors, his job at Frank’s restaurant, and many other half-baked plot lines and characters. Instead of keeping a sharp focus on the struggling unemployed Larry Crowne, the film was broaden to try and incorporate as many different issues as possible (popularity, love, friendships).

There was just so much in this film that could have been corrected to make for a decent template film. Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are great as always but their talent is wasted because the writing (also by Hanks along with Nia Vardalos) just rambles on in pointless and meaningless directions. I would not put this on any watch lists but it is a good example of a bad film to learn from.

RATING: 2 out of 5