Hanks & Roberts' Mature Comedy
I hate movies which leave me unsure of whether or not I enjoyed them and sadly despite featuring the talents of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts "Larry Crowne" left me unsure. I find myself wondering whether or not I do like it or whether I am trying to like it because it stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, it is that sort of movie as with a different cast of less gifted stars I have no doubt that I wouldn't like it. But to explain more the trouble is that "Larry Crowne" isn't the routine comedy you are expecting, it doesn't make fun of a stiff single fifty some-thing and doesn't feel the need to give every scene a joke it almost does its own thing and that throws you.
Having served in the Navy Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks - Angels & Demons) has found himself a nice life all by himself where he has risen to team leader at a huge home improvement warehouse. That is until he gets fired because whilst good at his job he has no college education and so is out. Finding it impossible to get work he takes the advice of his neighbour Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) and heads to college where alongside doing an economics class also takes a public speaking class run by Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts - Eat Pray Love) who doesn't really care for teaching anymore or for her marriage which is falling apart.
"Larry Crowne" is written by Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos whilst Hanks also directed and produced the movie as well and that is important because they have set about delivering a comedy for people closer to their age but using situations which wouldn't feel out of place in a comedy for a younger market. For example Larry Crowne is not to different to Steve Carell's Andy in "The 40 Year Old Virgin", he is stuck in his single life and in his ways, taking deep interest in the cooking and preparation of food. But where as Carell's character ended up the butt of plenty of obvious gags Hanks' Larry Crowne isn't made fun of, instead he is taken in by various people including hip younger students who give him a make over. It is far more grown up in humour style and more interested in characters evolving and embracing life than making fun of them.
The thing is what we have is two different characters both moving on with life, Larry forced to move on and become something new after he was fired whilst Mercedes finds passion again but both their journeys of evolution is quite slow. In fairness this slowness is in keeping with what I am sure the movies aim, which is to deliver a type of mid life crisis movie for those who are going through that change. It does throw some more usual sorts of jokes in there, George Takei as an econ teacher is a wonderful quirky creation who makes you smile even when he is doing nothing and the various other characters such as the laid back Steve Dibiasi are fun.
But the thing is that "Larry Crowne" is a movie which seems to be made for a more mature audience rather than a youthful crowd and unless you are prepared for it to be slower it just doesn't feel right. It's not the performances because both Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts are on fine form and have great chemistry but it just feels that little bit too different to what I expected.
What this all boils down to is that "Larry Crowne" is a charming movie about two people at a changing point in their lives. It is a more mature comedy with a slower pace but it makes me think that it is a movie which as you grow it will grow with you.