Direction: Tom Hanks
Actors: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts
In this multiplex era of comic-book superheroes, computer-driven fantasies and pre-teen oriented drivel, it's refreshing to stumble across a beguilingly old-fashioned romantic comedy. Fifteen years after making his directorial debut with the fondly remembered That Thing You Do!, double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks steps behind the camera once again. He also reunites with Julia Roberts, his co-star from Charlie Wilson's War (2008, as yet unreleased here).
Flashing her mega-watt smile, the still-pretty woman portrays a teacher at a community college. Disgruntled with her assignment - her public-speaking course is on the verge of being cancelled - as well as her porn-addicted husband, she winds up attracted to a recently enrolled student (Hanks).
The eponymous pupil, it turns out, has been laid off from his job for want of a college degree. Rather than mope about the wrongful dismissal, the middle-aged man is determined to reinvent himself.
Although the script, co-written by the director along with actress Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Weeding), loses some of its focus when it concentrates too much on the subsidiary characters, there's no denying its moments of emotional frisson and casual tenderness. Moreover, the community college milieu is evocatively rendered.
On the other hand, the narrative merely casts a cursory glance at the downbeat aspects of the ailing American economy, even depicting victims of the recession as a cheerfully positive lot.
Julia Roberts is in scintillating form sharing wonderful chemistry with the ever-affable Tom Hanks. The supporting ensemble demonstrates true affection for their characters, none more so than George Takei as the quirky economics professor.
Uneven at times, a little too predictable at others, overall Larry Crowne is a pleasant enough slice-of-life movie.