The first time I saw the trailer for Larry Crowne, I thought another sappy, overacted, love story that we’ve seen in movies like Twilight and the Notebook or as we have heard in many Taylor Swift songs. To my surprise, this movie was nothing like that all and instead was an entertaining and pretty realistic portrayal about handling what life throws at you. To tell you the truth this may be one of the best movies I have seen this summer, and even this year.
As you’ve seen in the trailers, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is a successful, caring, and hardworking supercenter employee who is fired from the company because he never went to college. Despite his services in the navy, his loyalty to the company, and the amount of enjoyment he gets working at Umart, they still let him go to pursue other options. After striking out with various job interviews, Crowne turns to his loyal friend Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) a greedy yard sale entrepreneur who tells him to go to college and get educated. Eventually Crowne arrives at college and signs up for two classes, one of which is a public speaking class taught by Ms. Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts). Tainot is teacher going through some tough time of her own, but unlike Crowne who is trying to take life by the reigns, Tainot decides to drown her troubles in booze.
So what did I like so much about this movie? Well to start off the pace of the movie was faster than I expected. Unlike some romantic movies I have seen in the past, Larry Crowne’s pace was fast enough to keep me interested, yet slow enough to still deliver the lessons and story that it had set it to tell. I’ll admit there were a few slow scenes that were probably a little carried out, but overall I thought the pace was balanced. I think what also helped the pace of the movie was the different types of humor injected throughout the movie, more on the humor later.
However the pace was only one strength of the movie. Perhaps the biggest strength is how realistic and entertaining the story is. Instead of some drama filled, overacted, teenage love story, Larry Crowne is a more accurate portrayal of life. Success doesn’t just magically come for Crowne, like we have seen in other movies, instead we see him experience both failure and success as he works hard to get his life back on track. It actually brought back memories of my struggles to find balance in my life and trying to recover from some bad times, though I must admit my bad times were nothing like Crowne’s experiences.. However there was also another side of the story that some may be able to relate to. Ms. Taibot’s faces her troubles in a little less positive manner resorting to alcohol to drown her sorrows. Instead of working hard to improve her life, she instead takes the easy, temporary relief that comes with getting drunk and faces the consequences the next morning. These two sides of the coin approach to life really helps one see how to there is a balance that must be achieved in order to tackle life.
It may sound like the story would get old after a while, but the acting and comedy provided by the actors, both main and secondary, keeps the movie fun and exciting. Unlike some comedies that seem to focus on one or two comedic styles, like Hangover, Your Highness, 40 year old version, Larry Crowne has a variety of comedic styles that can be enjoyable by a wide variety of ages. For instance there were plenty of one liners that had the audience cracking up, which for most of the movie were well timed to keep you laughing. People who may have had troubling marriages, relationships, or other forms of interactions will get a kick out of some of the irony and justice you see in the movie. Others may laugh at Larry being introduced to the modern world and the new frontier of technology. Although Lamar is his starting mentor, Larry’s main guide into the world is Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a carefree, women’s right passionate, hippy spirited student who has a natural zest for life. The spunky and youthful nature of this college girl is a wrench in Crowne’s quiet life, forcing him to experience new things and move on with life at a rapid pace. Not only was she an important cog to the pace and story of the movie, she and her friends made a lot of scenes fun. Perhaps the most enjoyable comedy for me though was the amount of college life jokes that were present in this movie. Whether it was that awkward, lazy college student, the intense science fiction geek or sports jock, or even a teacher being intimidating, harsh, or fair, I found myself laughing a lot as I could relate my friends to these characters. There were a lot of aspects that actually reminded me of a few professors, and I was able to actually picture my professors doing these kinds of actions, which made me laugh even harder. The point is there is a lot of comedy here that one can relate to, which seems to amplify how funny the jokes are.
However this movie is definitely not perfect. Perhaps the biggest weakness to this movie is the last few minutes of scenes which kind of dragged on. Although it tied up a few loose connections, the ending to the movie went back to that cheesy romance style that seems to make most audience members heart melt. Instead the movie should have ended a little sooner, where there was still some uncertainty, mystery, and everything had ended on good terms. To me it would have felt like a more realistic and appropriate ending. Another weakness, though only minor, is some of the camerawork in the movie. There are some shots where the background is really blurry and for me it was distracting to the scene rather than helpful. Although it is not an issue in most scenes, there are some close up shots of the actor that really emphasize blurry backgrounds. Other than these two issues, the only other things that come to mind are some overacted scenes, a few pointless lines, and a small amount of unanswered questions.
To wrap this up, Larry Crowne is an exciting tale of tackling life that teaches a good lesson about life. However, what really separates this movie from more recent movies with a similar lesson is the strong cast and diverse characters that this movie had. Hanks, Roberts, and all the rest of the gang worked so well in this movie and I hope to see some of them work together again. Again the comedic styles are diverse, fresh, fun, and extremely relatable and I hope you find it as enjoyable as I do. This movie I feel deserves 9.0-9.5 rating and is definitely worth checking out. I strongly recommend you to see this film except if you only see movies with action, horror, crude comedy, or are a Hanks/Roberts hater.