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Cinema Review: Larry Crowne (2011)

July 7, 2011


The last time Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts shared a screen together, it was for the Aaron Sorkin-scripted political drama ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’.  The film was not a huge success, but it was entertaining enough, and its focus on the USA’s involvement in the Afghan fight against Soviet occupation held a lot of relevance to today’s world.  ‘Entertaining’ and ‘relevant’ are, however, two words which belong absolutely nowhere near a description of ‘Larry Crowne’; more apt would be ‘boring’ and ‘pointless’.  Thinking about it, this makes sense.  Hanks and Roberts have never exactly been at the forefront of cutting-edge cinema, usually preferring to settle into cosy, audience-pleasing roles (with the odd, usually Oscar-baiting, exception), and that’s clearly exactly what they’re aiming for here.  ‘Larry Crowne’ has clearly been designed to be as light, breezy and inoffensive as possible.  Even when the economy downturn leads to Larry (Hanks) losing his job, or an unhappy marriage leads to Mercedes (Roberts) attempting to drink away her life, there’s no real sense of pain.  The extent of the film’s depth can probably be best described by a throwaway line: ‘Times are tough’.  No explanation why this is the case, no attempt to explore the genuine problems caused by the current economic climate. just a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh, before getting over it about five seconds later.  Why even bother mentioning the recession at all if you’re just going to gloss over it?  It’s not only dull, but insulting; a token effort to make an ultimately meaningless story relatable.  The script, meanwhile, contains absolutely no wit, and the film as a whole is achingly predictable and above all, completely aimless.  Is it a romantic comedy?  A character study?  A light drama?  Hanks (also directing) doesn’t seem to have a clue.  There are a vast array of supporting characters who I can only guess were there to provide the comedy, but as I didn’t once crack a smile they failed pretty spectacularly on that one.  The most depressing thing is that you can predict exactly how the ‘story’ will turn out approximately ten minutes in, which makes the whole thing even more of a pointless endeavour.  If you’re a die-hard fan of Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts then you might get something out of it, but otherwise it’s a complete waste of time and money.


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