Larry Crowne

My goodness! No nudity, no profanity, no car chases, no fisticuffs, no blowie uppie stuff... What makes Tom Hanks think there is a market for something this bland? The audience response, that's what!

Mr. H. wrote, directed and starred in this sweet romance for people of a certain age. The story reflects today's economy, e.g., our hero is down- sized from a big-box store because he has no college degree and the powers that be use that as a handy way to sort the wheat from the chaff. Of course he is in shock but immediately wades into job search mode...to no avail. His banker refuses (now!) to discuss re-finance because he is unemployed. Eventually he decides to enroll at a nearby community college and get some higher-education credentials.

Let's meet the cast:
  • Tom Hanks ("Toy Story 3") is our hero, completely out of touch with the younger generation. His tucked-in knit shirts are a dead giveaway and he doesn't know how to send text messages on his cell phone. The price of gas convinces him to buy a motor scooter as his principal mode of transportation. It's fun to watch him evolve.
  • Julia Roberts ("Eat Pray Love") teaches speech at the local com- munity college. She is unhappily married to an unemployed porn addict, bored with her job and inching her way toward alcoholism. This is the second time Roberts has been cast with Hanks ("Charlie Wilson's War"), and they clearly relish this reunion as they scoot around town together.
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw (lots of TV) is the fellow student who takes our hero under her wing, showing him how to dress, how to text and how to fit in with the other students.
  • Bryan Cranston ("Breaking Bad") is Julia's layabout husband, proud of his porn addiction because he's "a MAN!"
  • George Takei ("Star Trek") is a professor of Economics, who HATES cell phones in his class!
  • Cedric the Entertainer ("Cadillac Records") is our hero's next- door neighbor, whose sole livelihood is a perpetual garage sale every weekend. You will enjoy his price negotiations.
  • Taraji P. Henson ("The Karate Kid" - 2010) is the distaff side of that perpetual garage sale.
  • Rita Wilson ("It's Complicated") is the bank officer who thinks a "complimentary cup of coffee" will dull any pain caused by her bank's policies.
The most unlikely part of the plot is the whole-hearted acceptance of this over-the-hill dork by a hip (but drug-free!), gang of cyclists. At least he learns how to text! And he teaches Julia how to program her car's GPS so she doesn't have to sing I'm Called Little Buttercup from HMS Pinafore to drown out that irritating "...Recalculating..."

It's nice to see that Hanks collaborated on the screenplay with Nia Vardalos ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding") because he and his wife Rita Wilson have been fans ever since they discovered her off-off Broadway show many years ago; they produced her movie in 2002. In my opinion, one of the reasons Tom Hanks has such staying power in Hollywood is his willingness to diversify, while keeping friends along the way.
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