“Larry Crowne” is a movie that
“Can’t Miss.” First, it’s
Tom Hanks, who’s practically incapable of making a bad movie.
He’s this generation’s Jimmy Stewart, the Everyman whom
everybody roots for and has affection for, and we love him so much that
we’ll even allow him his occasional moments where he’s something
less than glamorous. Somehow that
only adds to his universal appeal.
Tom Hanks plays “Larry Crowne,”
the middle-aged employee of a large discount retailer who gets
blindsided by a sudden corporate downsizing.
They tell him that he’s unable to move up on the managerial
ladder because he doesn’t have a college education, but later on he
discovers they’re laying off others who do have a degree, so he soon
realizes that there really isn’t a reason. He’s just fired.
But he enrolls in a local community college, anyway, after
unsuccessfully searching for similar employment.
Apparently a 50-something, non-degreed guy is not a highly sought
after candidate for the corporate fast track.
Eventually he takes a job cooking at local restaurant where he
knows the owner, because he was a cook in the Navy.
Not that he ever considered himself a fancy chef or anything.
But at least it’s someplace that would hire him.
Larry’s lived in the same little
suburban house for years, in fact he took out a second mortgage to try
to buy out his ex-wife’s share after the divorce, but now both loans
are underwater. The bank, of
course, is not going to re-negotiate, especially because he’s
unemployed. So Larry just gives
the house back to the bank, sells everything he has to lease a small
apartment and buy a scooter, and then finds himself in a speech class
where the teacher (Julia Roberts) is clearly unhappy with herself and
the rest of the world, and in an economics class where the professor is
as obtuse as he is full of himself, having written his own textbook.
But somehow Likeable Larry begins
to find his mojo again. A group
of young students at the college invite him to join their “scooter
gang,” which is a great way to meet a whole bunch of new friends.
In his speech class, all the students make noticeable
improvement. And best of all, the
teacher just might share his interest in seeing each other outside of
The re-invention of Larry Crowne
even extends to his wardrobe, as the “Scooter Gang” helps him ditch
the frumpy look---both the clothes and the haircut.
From all outward appearances, Larry Crowne’s economic
circumstances have not really improved. But
he’s found a way to enjoy life even within his downsized self.
There’s a very important lesson there somewhere.
But it never sounds moralistic. Just
one guy trying to get a little better every day.
The romance is oh-so-chaste, like something out of the 1950’s.
(OK, there was a little heartfelt cussing, but only enough to
dodge the dreaded G rating.) Yeah,
there are some plot holes, and it’s awkward in some places.
But this one is a crowd-pleaser. You
just can’t help but like the sincere, earnest guy on the screen.
And as the “real” Tom Hanks knows, that sells movie tickets.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor,
United Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas