Larry Crowne This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

September 28, 2011
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Last year, my friends and I were working on an art project in the hall when my school principal stopped to chat. When he finally left, he said, “Well, I got to be hip-to-the-groove!” As he left, giddily strutting down the hall, we could barely contain our laughter. My principal is under the delusion that he is cool, just like Tom Hanks's new movie “Larry Crowne.”

Much like my principal, “Larry Crowne” comes off like a baby boomer trying to work his new iPhone. He thinks he's doing it right, but you cringe at how hard he's trying. It's almost painful. Hanks is an ­affable guy. In general, he is charming and has a special aura that, no matter the character, lightens your heart. My favorite of his roles is probably Viktor Navorsky in the much underrated and light-as-air “The Terminal,” which embodies the charming, almost naive kindness Hanks brings to the screen. However, “The Terminal” was made 10 years ago, which means that Hanks is now ten years older.

“Larry Crowne” is essentially a geriatric romantic comedy. Hanks's character has worked diligently at a Walmart-type superstore for years. His superiors, however, take note of his lack of college education and, when the economy begins to slide, start laying off those who are least “qualified.” However, a reflection on contemporary economic times this is not. It's more of a dull story about a middle-age guy who falls for a pretty middle-age woman (Julia Roberts) all the while trying to act cool. And what a hard job that is.

Directed and written by Hanks, “Larry Crowne” is not bad. It's just blah. It's not particularly interesting or compelling, and its charm is limited to how much of Hanks acting older you can handle. See Hanks texting on his flip phone with a twentysomething at his community college. See Roberts being bored as a community college professor. See two baby boomers, however ­attractive, playing “why, yes, we are old enough to be your grandparents” and falling for each other. It's not really cute because it's annoying and cringe-worthy. The lingo is definitely unrealistic and scarily exaggerated.

Julia Roberts is fine. Her airy presence and big smile all add something. However, her performance doesn't keep the movie from being dull. Trapped in a marriage with a slacker (Bryan Cranston of “Breaking Bad”) who is a blogger and watches porn, she has an excuse to canoodle with Hanks. Which is fine. Not interesting, but fine.

This movie screams “fine” all over, and that's the problem. With a name like Tom Hanks, you expect something quirky, not annoying; something cute and fun, not cringe-worthy and kind of wacky. It is the AARP of romantic comedies. But it's not a good one, because while embracing that demographic, it tries desperately to reach a younger group too. If anything, it's just as “hip-to-the-groove” as my principal. Which is barely at all.

Grade: C

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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