Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mercy Mercy Me

In Larry Crowne, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts team up to save the world from an invasion of alien robots. And it's all in 3-D! No, not really. In this modern-day dramedy, Hanks stars as the title character, who gets laid off from his job at a Target-like big box retailer because his lack of a college degree makes him unpromotable (he opted for the Navy when he was 18). To right the wrong, and help his future prospects, he enrolls in a community college, where he meets (and falls for) his speech professor, played by Roberts.

I call Larry Crowne a "modern-day" dramedy because the film has a plot that reflects the current reality of so many people who've been laid off from their jobs. And yet, Larry Crowne also feels like "The Bad Economy for Dummies," because it is such a feel-good, accessible film that you don't really worry about the main character because you know everything's gonna be alright. As if that's not enough, there are lame references to "new media" and use of terminology like "knockers." Plus, you've got Hanks and Roberts in the leads (and on a motor scooter) and a soundtrack that's heavy on boomer-favorite Tom Petty. Oh, and there's a happy ending too where (spoiler) the two main characters fall in love. Suffice it to say, this isn't Up in the Air or The Company Men.

I know I'm not exactly the target audience for Larry Crowne. The film's definitely geared more toward people like my parents, and they will love it. That's not a bad thing. I mean, despite all I just said, this isn't exactly a bad movie. It's definitely better than the trailer made it seem. Hanks exudes a winning charm, as always, and even though the love story between him and Roberts' character (whose name is Mercy, by the way) seems forced and contrived, the two have a nice, easy chemistry together. It's always enjoyable to watch Tom and Julia on screen, despite your resistance, whether they're alone or together (as with Charlie Wilson's War).

Still, as noted, the film just feels so middle of the road and safe that it's hard to get too engaged. And for God's sake, hide your eyes during the totally ridiculous, cheesy, and unnecessary closing credits. Larry Crowne may not be "spectacular" entertainment, but it's a pleasant (if long) 90 minutes. I'm giving it a B–.



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