Movie Review: Larry Crowne- Tom Hanks Directs This Abysmal Non-Romantic Unfunny Comedy into the Ground with a Pedestrian Style and Predictable Formula

After witnessing the absolute car crash that is the sorry excuse of a romantic-comedy known as Larry Crowne there needs to be a quick assessment as to what the hell happened to actor Tom Hanks? Not only does he star in this appallingly unfunny and chillingly unromantic film but he also has the unfortunate credit recognition as the Writer and Director. Hanks, a two time academy award winner, actually wrote and watched over the completion of this horrifically boring and below pedestrian standard of filmmaking known as Larry Crowne. Did anyone at any point feel like telling this revered actor that his script just wasn’t very good? Of course they didn’t and of course with his name attached to this piece of garbage he was able to sell it quickly. Sort of like putting a Gucci brand on a plastic bag and calling it an elegant purse. Romantic comedies are a lackluster genre to begin with because they thrive on naïve optimism, repetitive scenarios, and formulaic plot structures that include some sort of relationship obstacle either with one of the characters insecurities or the fact they’re already in a relationship but not the one they should be in. It’s all familiar and Larry Crowne is no exception. But what makes Crowne such an irritating failure is the fact that two very accomplished actors, Hanks and his romantic accomplice Julia Roberts, can’t even make their unrealistic, forced, and even sad relationship charming enough to enjoy the already predictable parts. Add that with a story that begins in such an unbelievable direction, humor that won’t even make you smile (actually it might make you cringe), and an unabashedly amateur film style and you practically have a guide to “making the embarrassing template to an esteemed actor’s unfortunate demise.”

Larry Crowne isn’t just merely a failure at trying to be a sympathy capturing romantic comedy but it’s also a failure at trying to be a representation of our downtrodden economic moment. The protagonist Crowne is fired within the first 10 minutes of the film from a basic retail position for the laughable reason that he didn’t go to college (anyone know what they’re trying to peddle here?). It’s not that college isn’t an admirable goal, even in these times where it’s being saturated in an upper education bubble, but it gets a bit preachy when it becomes a film’s unnecessary narrative ploy. It’s a bit hard to believe that a basic retail employee would be fired because of his lack of educational experience, especially since he has experience within the company and has extensive knowledge on how they operate. But this is Hollywood storytelling and exaggeration, even without grounding in truth, is welcome. It’s all meant as a catalyst though where he goes to college, is inspired by his unhappily married teacher, finds new friends, and eventually a new life. It’s an incredibly dampening experience till the end as the film relies solely on situations to invoke our sympathies rather than actually feeling them through the character’s reactions to his predicament. One of the hardest things for an actor to accomplish is when they direct themselves they need to surround themselves with reliable people who can tell them the truth (a great assistant director would do just fine). Unfortunately, what ends up happening with some big time directors, writers, and actors is that they become too famous for criticism with those they’ve hired. This could be a reason why a lot of films end up being astoundingly mediocre. And mediocre certainly describes Larry Crowne the film and the character. Just a side not on the script in regards to the writers. Tom Hanks isn’t much of a writer (minor contributions to “Band of Brothers” and That Thing You Do) so it came as no surprise that he was aided by the extremely overrated Mia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame. If anyone saw her last atrocious romantic comedy entitled My Life in Ruins (actually no one did) then it explains a lot about the commonplace writing for the Romantic characters that feels strained from the very beginning.

With any romantic comedy there has to be something delightfully quirky about the couple we’re following, such as Billy Chrystal and Amy Ryan in Rob Reiner’s still relevant film When Harry Met Sally or for a modern example Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the refreshing (500) Days of Summer. Normal people are, unfortunately, quite boring and watching Tom Hanks trying to capture the Average Joe on the street doesn’t work. In fact, it becomes even duller than just watching people on the street. And when he starts to get involved with his delightfully misunderstood Speech teacher the relationship becomes forced, strained, and a chore to get involved with. Hanks and Roberts as a couple is about as interesting as watching sloths (probably less so) and they lack that essential chemistry that makes us root for them to tackle their obstacles. Granted not a lot of Romantic Comedies accomplish this but there is an arrogance here that Academy Award winning actors can do what the others can’t when in fact they’ve done it much worse. So let’s add up all of the categories and see how Tom Hanks did. It’s a romantic comedy that isn’t in the slightest heartwarming, it’s a comedy that falls flat and gets uncomfortably irritating, and there is an absence of charm and acting capabilities to make even the predictable tolerable. And there is a lesson to be learned from all of this. No matter what name actor you might have involved with your project and no matter how much money you can get your hands on the basic and essential piece to the filmmaking art is an enjoyable, relatable, or even contemplative story that engages our minds, senses, or emotions.

Grade: D

One Response to “Movie Review: Larry Crowne- Tom Hanks Directs This Abysmal Non-Romantic Unfunny Comedy into the Ground with a Pedestrian Style and Predictable Formula”
  1. Stephen says:

    You have some intersting ideas but miss the basic assumption. Fired for not having an education. You should come to the real world. This really happens in America. I know of over 54 people in 12 companies that have suffered this fate in the last 3 years. So yes educaiton is used as a firing bullet.

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