Before beginning this review, I should point out that Tom Hanks is a phenomenal actor. He is truly dependable, offering out iconic and memorable performances in such a consistent manner it’s genuinely inspiring, entertaining and. However, his directing abilities take a severely different turn, and there’s no better example than Larry Crowne.
All of that charm and energy he has on screen is drained away from him once he gets behind the camera and into the directing chair. I’m not quite sure what it is, but every unique and interesting aspect of Hanks’ onscreen persona doesn’t transition to off the camera. It’s a shame too, because I went into Larry Crowne with some very high hopes.
Maybe it was the nice editing and soundtrack pairing of the opening that led me to believe this would be a competent, light hearted drama. ELO’s Hold on Tight opens the movie for me, and it’s one of my favourite songs. It’s funny how little aspects of a movie like this can build up a great expectation. But as it turns out this was just misleading.
Luckily, it’s not the worst film in the world. Tom Hanks stars as the titular Larry Crowne, a man who after being laid off from his job decides to take himself to college. Maybe a unique take on an old genre, Larry Crowne is your typical romantic drama with a few nice elements throughout. But these new elements are constructed poorly and often muddled with the rest of the movie.
When it feels like the movie is about to do something new or inventive, it falls right back into place alongside every other romantic comedy. It’s not so much of a romantic movie either, given that the final emotional punch comes right at the very end of the movie. In essence, it’s 100 minutes of build-up, with a brief window of time for this final pay-off.
What surprises me the most is the strength of the cast, and how very unfortunate it is that they’re given literally nothing to do for the entire runtime. Bryan Cranston, George Takei and Pam Grier all feature throughout for reasons beyond my comprehension. It’s not as if they’re actually doing anything of note, they just sort of show up sporadically throughout the runtime.
Still, it’s harmless. Tom Hanks simply exudes charisma so that helps a lot with the duller moments of the movies. Some supporting cast members were annoying, but in a way I hope Hanks did this intentionally, mainly so he could steal the spotlight all for himself. The writing could use some work, but it’s a semi-decent movie. Bearable, but that should never be a word that summarises a movie with Tom Hanks in a starring role.