Ever walk into a room and get the feeling that something is missing? Larry Crowne gives off that same vibe. There is a void and initially I could not place my finger on it, but I decided to sit down and edge out exactly what caused the bitterness I experienced following my viewing of the film.
Tom Hanks not only stars lead in the film, but also takes the directing reins, a hat he has not worn since (correct me if I am wrong) That Thing You Do! back in 1996, as well as co-writer.
There are several reasons this film does not click. The first: little to zero chemistry between the leads Hanks and Julia Roberts. Both have shown that they can successfully have chemistry with those on-screen, but for whatever reason, whether it be the writing or the directing, it hard to root for this couple. The writing does play a part as Roberts’ character, Mercedes is married and though she eventually heads towards divorce (from Bryan Cranston) it is for shallow and loose reasons. Larry and Mercedes’ first kiss is while Mercedes is still married, drunk, and having just had the dumbest fight with her husband (Cranston plays Dean, who surfs for big breasted women on the internet).
The second reason this film loses footing is that Larry Crowne appears to have no faults (and perhaps it is Forrest Gump talking, but Larry comes off slightly mentally deficient at times). Bad things happen to Larry like losing his job at the beginning of the film, being let go for not having a college education, and eventually losing his house, but Larry is void of any sort of range of emotion. He tends to just go-with-the-flow, which rings false. A character needs to be fully developed in front of us for an audience to truly care. To use my favorite film this year (thus far) Drive as an example, Ryan Gosling viciously murders a man in front of us, yet we are still emotionally invested in his story and generally hope the best for him. Larry Crowne does no wrong, yet somehow I just do not care how things turn out.
One can tell that Larry Crowne attempts to be quirky and emotional, but like I stated, there is just something not there. The moments that did stick out come from the speech class that Larry takes. Dave Mack (Malcolm Barrett) is one of Larry’s classmates and his speeches and quick retorts are well worth the rest of the film’s mishaps. Also, there is a touching moment during Hank’s final speech that caused a smile, but otherwise this film is fairly devoid of any guttural responses apart from the lack thereof.
When it comes to films directed by well-known and admired actors like Tom Hanks, you wish the films to do well, but it felt like Larry Crowne was a dud out of the gate. The film The Ides of March from earlier this year, directed by actor George Clooney, is proof that the acting/directing tag can fit, but Hanks just needs to steer away from lackluster (semi-)romantic comedies and focus on something more his style.
[Directed by Tom Hanks] [PG-13] [98 min] [1 July 2011]