Directed by: Tom Hanks
Written by:Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos
Starring: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Cedric The Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Rita Wilson, Pam Grier, Bryan Cranston
Released: July 21, 2011
Grade: C+

Things begin with Larry Crowne (Hanks) getting called into a meeting at work.  He thinks he’s going to receive the employee of the month award.  Instead, he is fired.  The company is downsizing and Larry has been earmarked for retention given his lack of a college education.  His days stocking shelves and pushing trolleys at U-Mart have come to an end.

Unable to find another job and struggling to meet his mortgage repayments, Larry makes the curious decision to enrol at a community college.  The reason I use the term “curious” is because Larry doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing.  He picks a subject on speeches and another on economics.  Why?  Well, because of advice from a complete stranger.  Go figure. 

Perhaps we can call it fate because these classes with change Larry’s life.  They improve his knowledge base and self-confidence but more importantly, he makes new friends.  One of them is a young woman who invites Larry to be part of her scooter riding “gang”.  My first thought was that they were out to take advantage of him but not so.  They actually have a soft spot for Larry and his nerdish mannerisms (as hard as that is to believe).

The film’s romantic angle comes with the arrival of Mercedes Tainot (Roberts), Larry’s unenthusiastic speech teacher.  The film doesn’t delve too deeply into her past but we know she’s unhappy.  She’s trapped in a loveless marriage to a man (Cranston) who sits at home and downloads internet porn all day. 

It’s nice to see good things happening to good people and I’m sure some will watch Larry Crowne with a smile on their face.  It’s a clean, sweet, innocent film that I could safely take my mother to see.  It wasn’t for me however.  It felt like I was being smothered with “feel good” moments.  Everything about the story and its characters is too far detached from reality.

Having been poorly received by both the critics (judging from Rotten Tomatoes) and the public (judging from the Internet Movie Database), I know I’m not alone with my negative thoughts.  This film is too simplistic and I think many were expecting much more.