When you look at it on paper, this movie should be a breath of fresh air into the dull, effects laden madness Hollywood turns out today. There are no explosions or slow motion action shots. There are no gratuitous sex scenes. There is no over the top cursing. Taking these things out of a movie can make for some great viewing (Taken and 21 are two prime examples of this). On paper, this is a film you should like….but, as they say in sports, that my friend is why games are not played on paper.
The issues with this movie are plentiful, starting right off with the concept of the film itself. Yes, you can see why the company (which is obvious just a Target clone) Larry Crowne works for would not advance him because of not having a college degree, but NO company is going to fire you for not having a degree if you are good in the position you are in. The notion that “you have reached an advancement ceiling and therefore we are going to fire you” is ludicrous.
If that was the only issue, I could over look it. But this movie is so inconsistent in both its message and delivery, it is painful. Larry Crowne goes to register for college, and just happens to bump into the dean of student affairs and the dean tells him which classes to take….adding about the Julie Robert’s taught class “you will really like the teacher” with a dirty old man voice. No meeting with counselors to set up a schedule or even determining what Crowne will actually be studying.
Now, let’s jump to the Julia Roberts character, who manages to be completely unlikable and totally forgettable at the same time (a rare movie feat). I am actually stunned Roberts agreed to play the role as terrible as it is written. She has a no working husband (you never really do figure out what Bryan Cranston does for a living in this) who is addicted to porn, and obviously has been for a quite some time. But it takes a night of 30 seconds of making out with Crowne to realize you want to get a divorce from him? Combine this with the absolutely ridiculous treatment of her students in class, and you just want to start jamming pencils in your eyes so you will not have to watch anymore.
Oh, but it does not stop there. You have to add the wacky neighbor, in this case Cedric The Entertainer. It seems he won $500,000 in some type of game show, and now never has to work again in his life. Instead, he simply runs a 365 day a year yard sale in his nice neighborhood. Yeah, I will give you a minute to digest that one.
The entire time I was watching this, I could not stop thinking “why?” As in, why did such a talent like Hanks not spot these glaring missteps and fix them? There is a great story buried in the pile of garbage that is this script. I would love to have been told the story of Crowne setting out to find a new path in life through college in middle age. That is a story I would sit down and watch and enjoy. But that is not what you get here. Instead, you get a half-hearted middle ages crisis tale.
1.5 out of 5…simply because as bad as the script is, Hanks is still completely engaging in the role.