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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Julia Robers
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Cedric The Entertainer
Taraji P. Henson
Wilmer Valderrama
Pam Grier
Bryan Cranston
George Takei.
Directors
Tom Hanks.
Screenwriters
Nia Vardalos
Tom Hanks.
Running Time
98 mins minutes

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Larry Crowne
Tom Hanks becomes a student. Cue Countdown and cider.


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Plot
Larry Crowne (Hanks) is made redundant from his supermarket job because he doesn't have a college degree and, with other jobs thin on the ground, decides to become a student. In community college he meets new friends, and develops an interest in his unhappily married teacher, Mercedes (Roberts).


Review
Larry Crowne
It's hard to imagine what sort of public meltdown would be necessary to dislodge Tom Hanks from the world’s affections. The near-supernatural amiability of the star is such that it would probably require televised puppy murder while brandishing a copy of Mein Kampf to so much as dent his likability. And it’s that generous charisma that carries his second directorial effort along, despite a meandering and largely meaningless plot.

While 1996’s That Thing You Do! had a clear arc, this is a less focused tale. Hanks’ Crowne is a puppyishly enthusiastic team leader in a large store. When he is made redundant and can’t find other work, he switches his SUV for a scooter, and work for community college. Soon he’s making a new, disparate bunch of friends, accepting tuition from Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and forming a crush on his teacher, Mercedes (Julia Roberts).

Crowne’s a good guy, and a hero to root for, but the plot is also puppyishly enthusiastic, dashing around to spend time with Mercedes and her no-goodnik husband (Bryan Cranston), show us classroom scenes from both speech class and economics (George Takei in arch and scene-stealing form as the latter’s professor), join a scooter gang, visit with Crowne’s neighbours, land a part-time job, and allow Talia to drop out of college to open a vintage store. It’s the sort of rich detail that nicely creates a sense of community, but if — as the title suggests — this is one man’s journey, it’s beside the point. For long stretches the putative lead is so neglected that elements essential to his story — like the love story with Mercedes — end up a little under-cooked. While Roberts’ character is well developed, thawing gradually from a disappointed near-alcoholic into someone infected by Crowne’s optimism almost despite herself, the pair together needed just a tiny bit more attention.

That said, like That Thing You Do!, this is such a well-intentioned film it would take a hard heart to reject it outright. We could wish that Hanks had been a less generous writer/director, and kept the focus more on his own character, or that he had dared to tread more political territory with some discussion of the economy, but what’s here is a gentle and — yes — likable character story.


Verdict
This one coasts by on Hanks’ immense appeal and charm, but more focus and a touch more sharpness are needed to make it really come alive.


Reviewed by Helen O'Hara

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Larry Crowne
Empire Star Rating

Larry Crowne: Review

Larry Crowne is an alright film. It had some funny parts in the film and some scenes are enjoyable to watch. The problems with the film is the story is a bit slow to learn and some scenes are not interesting or just stupid. Some of the comedy are also stupid and things we've heard before. I would recommend this film to be a rental. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Edward9630 at 00:44, 17 August 2011 | Report This Post


larry not crowned king

luke warm film,with weak script,with no great humour,hanks and roberts on autopilot ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by satan666 at 19:07, 04 July 2011 | Report This Post


It's Just So Nice

"That said, like That Thing You Do!, this is such a well-intentioned film it would take a hard heart to reject it outright." Your'e right Helen O Hara this is a like-able film its just so nice it will give you a warm feeling inside and put a smile on your face. Highly recommend this feel good film. The bit where she spies him through the peep hole in the door well if the music had words it would be cheese cheese cheese but it made me smile a lot. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 19:06, 01 July 2011 | Report This Post


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