Bomb squad: Larry Crowne
We take another look at Tom Hanks’s summer megaflop.
There’s no question Hollywood released better comedies this year than the summer megaflop Larry Crowne, but it may not have produced a weirder one. The erosion of the American middle class as the backdrop of a cutesy romantic comedy? Okay, Tom Hanks, whatever you say!
Hanks, pulling triple duty as star, director and cowriter (with Nia Vardalos), kicks off the movie with a serious head-scratcher: a montage glorifying the beauty of life as a box-store wage slave. Hanks’s gregarious title character, a 50-year-old former Navy cook, cleans up garbage, hauls shopping carts and loves every minute of his dead-end job. Viva the 99 percent!
Then tragedy strikes: Larry’s laid off for his “lack of educational background”—because chain retailers only employ people with college degrees?—and with few career prospects available, our hero heads back to school. It sounds dramatic, but just when it looks as if Larry’s life is about to fall apart, everything magically clicks into place. He gets a new job and catches the eye of his speech-class professor (Julia Roberts) right as she’s having problems with her husband (Bryan Cranston), a man-child who rants about his wife’s cup size in every scene.
Yeah, that Julia Roberts, she sure is hideous, huh? That makes about as much sense as an outgoing guy like Larry needing a public-speaking class, a middle-aged man joining a roving scooter gang (led by Wilmer Valderrama) or two actors as likable as Hanks and Roberts producing this soporific exercise.