Friday, July 1, 2011

Larry Crowne

I fear I may be ill.  This week I thoroughly enjoyed 'Transformers 3' finding it surprisingly realistic, and the very next day found a movie starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts to be virtually unwatchable and completely unbelievable.  Am I sick?  Should I call someone?  Or is this a sign of the apocalypse?

Watching 'Larry Crowne' was an insult to my intelligence.  All I could think was, Tom Hanks, what are you doing directing and starring in this movie?  You won two Oscars back to back for 'Philadelphia' and 'Forrest Gump' and starred in 'Cast Away', 'Saving Private Ryan', 'Apollo 13', A League of Their Own' and countless other memorable roles, and directed the great 'That Thing You Do'!  And Julia Roberts is hit or miss, but is generally better at picking material than this.  And Brian Cranston is amazing in 'Breaking Bad' but way too good for the role he was given here.  What were you all thinking?!?

Here's the storyline:  Tom Hanks loses his pride-and-joy job at 'U Mart' (a job most people would probably be happy to lose) where he has been a model employee for years, simply because he doesn't have a college degree.  (Problem 1:  Does Tom Hanks look like a guy who doesn't have a college degree?)  So he decides to enroll in college.  Now, I don't know where you went to college, but my classes were a little harder than Hanks' class, taught by Julia Roberts, where he just has to stand in front of nine people and talk about something he already knows, like how to make French Toast.  (Problem #2)  And I don't know where you went to school, but generally college kids aren't all that friendly to the 55 year old puffy, square dude who decided to enroll late in life.  Especially cute girls and bad ass dudes.  (Problem #3)  And don't get me started on the lack of chemistry between Hanks and Roberts and their unbelievable relationship arc.  (Problem #4)  Well, welcome to Nia Vardalos' world!  The script, by Vardalos, is downright laughable.  Vardalos truly must have an angel on her shoulder.  (And I think that angel is named Rita Wilson, wife of Tom Hanks, who is responsible for discovering Vardalos after seeing her play of 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and convincing Hanks to produce the film.)  Well, as luck would have it, 'My Big Fat Wedding' only cost $5 Million to make and went on to earn over $240 Million.  Lucky for Vardalos, but unlucky for the rest of us because a monster was created.  OK, 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' was a decent film.  Overrated, but decent.  But then we had to sit through Vardalos in 'Connie and Carla', 'I Hate Valentine's Day', and 'My Life in Ruins' (where all I could think was, Richard Dreyfuss, what are you doing in this movie?)  And now this!  Seriously, I could more easily suspend my disbelief in 'Transformers 3' than I could in this movie.  It's just so phony and the characters are just so unrealistic.  I can only hope to one day move to planet Vardalos, because here on Earth, things don't happen like they do in this movie, and the characters in this film don't act like human beings that I've ever known. 

Now I must tell you, the only things more ridiculous than this movie were the mumblings I heard from select people in the crowd afterward about how great they thought it was.  Oh brother!  Well, I'm the first to admit I don't speak for everyone.  Some people obviously just want a feel good film regardless if it's completely phony.  OK, fine.  But not this guy.  Not this guy.

Grade: D


  1. Knauer on Flieder on Film: This might be my favorite review yet. Nothing like a good take down. A!

  2. BRAVO!!! Nothing like a good dose of vitriol in the morning!

  3. Maybe M. Night Shyamalan and Nia Vardalos should team up an make a really SPECIAL movie?

  4. I disagree. I expected this movie to be corny and schlocky, but instead it played very well. It has a small film, easy-going-ness about it, that was on the whole enjoyable.

    On a different subject, I now know why I so seldom get comments on my blog, because I never write a pan. If I don't like a film then I'm not inspired to write about it, or I try to highlight the positives. But evidently, people prefer a good old-fashion slamming. hmm....

  5. Or maybe we just like Brian?

  6. Indeed! Hear, hear, John C! We just like Brian. Enough said!

    Well, maybe not enough said. (Actually to be completely honest, in my household we LOVE Brian! So, to be fair, there is that teensy bit of bias going on.) Also, how can I not love a film critic who, even when he gives a bad review, remains gentlemanly? Bri never goes down the low-life, mean-spirited, sinister route that picks apart the people, not the product. So many funny people get mean in their comedy (which I expect in a roast... not in a legit film review). Even while giving a negative analysis, Brian remains professional, witty, and on point. Never slamming just because he can. He keeps it about the film, the performances, the script, the STORY. (Story is king. No idiotic statements about how Julia Roberts' face is aging, or some such superficial nonsense.) Bri tells he like it is. And even if we don't agree, he always keeps us amused. And his writing! His writing. We love his writing.

    My favorite line: "I can only hope to one day move to planet Vardalos, because here on Earth, things don't happen like they do in this movie, and the characters in this film don't act like human beings that I've ever known." Classic!

    Bummed to hear that two actors I really like have hit so far off the mark in this one. Also bummed about the lack of chemistry. Chemistry can make or break a film... so part of me wonders that had there been some sizzling, sensual scintillation between the leads (sorry, I wasn't actually trying for alliteration), would the movie have been enjoyable?

    On an entirely different note, I have to say there is a completely different movie that all of you MUST see, whose title happens to rhyme perfectly with the film reviewed here.

    It's called: HARRY BROWN.
    (Brian, of course, has seen it already.)

    It stars the great and magnificent Michael Caine; it takes place across the pond; the lead character is dark and enigmatic; and the whole film is incredibly shot. Not a romance, but a slice of life; it's intense, but made me feel good in a vicious "go get 'em" vindictive sort of way (not in a sappy, feel-good, phony rom-com sort of way).

    So forget Larry Crowne, and go rent Harry Brown.

    And meanwhile, Bri, just let us know when you'll be leaving Earth. We'll move to Planet Vardalos with you. It sounds like a nice place. Do you think they have French toast there?