LARRY CROWNE (Dir. Tom Hanks, 2011)
Initially, it's kinda neat to see Tom Hanks as just another average Joe for the first time in ages. He's playing a divorced man who prides himself on being named Employee of the Month repeatedly at the ficticious U-Mart (a Walmart-like big box store) he's worked at since retiring as a Navy cook.
Thing is, Hank's wide-eyed ernest title character never went to college, so he gets told by the store's higher-ups (including Rob Riggle) that they have to lay him off.
Hanks buys a motorscooter at his neighbor Cedric the Entertainer's permanent yard sale, so he can save money on gas, and applies to every retail outlet in the area. He learns over and over again that times are tough. Mainly because folks keep saying that out loud.
Hanks enrolls in community college where he befriends a fellow scooter rider classmate Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and falls in love with his professor (Julia Roberts somehow seeming bored and smug simultaneously) who teaches a class called "The Art of Informal Remarks." No really.
If it feels like I'm rushing through the plot it's only because there isn't much of one. A UP IN THE AIR-type premise about the bleak job situation doesn't go anywhere, and neither do any of the cutesy collection of comic bits that Hanks strains to set up.
Hanks' first film as director, THAT THING YOU DO (1996), was a trivial but highly likable musical comedy, so I had hopes that his second try at helming a vehicle would have something more going for it than what the trailers were suggesting. No such luck.
This flimsy film also features Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston in a horribly written role as Roberts' no good writer husband who spends more time looking at internet porn than working at home, and That '70s Show's Wilmer Valderrama as MBatha-Raw's jealous boyfriend, which is also a thankless uninspired part.
Only Lietenant Sulu from Star Trek himself, George Takei as a Economics proffesor has a few moments of something slightly resembling funny.
Hanks has blandly assembled a half-assed rom com out of very limited material, stitched together with empty quasi-inspirational sentiment, and Tom Petty songs.
After watching this film I can't answer who Larry Crowne is. Hanks' everyman appeal fades in the first 10 minutes and we never learn nothing about why his marriage ended or why he so loved his retail job before he was canned.
There's nothing interesting about Roberts' character either - she's a jaded educator, that's all I got. So why should we care if they get together?
I can't think of a single reason.