Larry Crowne Tom Hanks
Mercy Tainot Julia Roberts
Talia Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Dr. Matsunami George Takei
Director: Tom Hanks
Rated: PG-13 for brief strong language and some sexual content
Larry's the kind of guy that deserves the best in life, but isn't getting it. A string of unfortunate events present Larry Crowne as divorced, out of work, and struggling with gas prices. He hasn't lost his amiable charm, though. He responds to these challenges by enrolling in college and buying a powder blue scooter from his neighbor's perpetual yard sale. Larry's new social circle includes a group of scooter-riding, yard sale loving young people - a most unusual "gang". He's introduced to this gang by Talia (Mbatha-Raw of Undercovers), a coed from Larry's Economics class. She's ultimately responsible for forcing a change in his wardrobe, his hairstyle and the feng-shui of his living room.
Larry's professors are quite different from each other. Dr. Matsutani, (George Takei), teaches Larry's Economics class, filling a large lecture hall. He loves teaching and writing about Economics, and attempts to inject humor into his class. He entertains no one but himself, and his resultant laughter can only be described as deeply disturbing. Truly horror movie worthy. Mercy Tainot teaches "The Art of Informal Remarks". She is annoyed, uninspired and unapproachable. Her class size is small, barely avoiding cancellation.
Mercy's married to a former professor, turned author, turned blogger, turned web surfing bum of the less savory kind. Mr. Tainot spends his days commenting on blogs and ogling internet pictures of busty women in small swimwear. His wife's tart comments on these activities are, to his thinking, career envy. He clings to this clueless assumption. Mercy realizes her marriage has numbed her to life and she's helped by applying plenty of margaritas. Julia's famous smile and laugh is noticeably absent as she plays the cynical disposition of Mercy Tainot flawlessly.
When dining out with her husband ends in a bitter argument that is the last straw, Mercy gets out of the car and intends to take a bus home. Larry sees her sitting on the bench as he drives past on his scooter. He comes back to convince her to let him drive her home. When Larry walks her to her door, Mercy, a little intoxicated, surprises him with a wild kiss goodnight. After she closes the door, Larry is caught in the midst of a victory dance through the peep hole.
Larry realizes there is something vulnerable under her angry exterior. Mercy's initial mistrust of Larry is slowly replaced by an appreciation for his kindness, discretion and chivalry.
The sweetness of this romance Larry and Mercy's patience in its unfolding. Most of the film reveals two people taking a thoughtful journey through their difficult situations rather than rushing into something.
I found this movie to be lighthearted and enjoyable. The characters are the best sorts of people, representing a slice of everyday America's culture with second hand shops and local family restaurants.
The movie moved along nicely with a satisfying and positive plot. It isn't terribly complicated, but not every movie needs to be. The soundtrack was appropriate for this couple with tracks from ELO, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and even a Billy Squier ringtone.
This isn't a movie about Larry Crowne hitting the lottery or getting rich at the job of his dreams. It's about second starts, positive influences and discovering the many opportunities to smile in spite of hard knocks.
The directing succeeds at taking some unusual characters and actually making them fit together in a way that reflects humanity on a good day. It's why we love Tom Hanks.
Theater Release Date: July 1, 2011
I paid for my own matinee admission to this movie and was not compensated for my review