Larry Crowne (played by Tom Hanks) is an unassuming fellow around 50 and a great customer service sales rep at his local superstore. He excels in this role and has been “Employee of the Month” nine times. One day, Larry is called to the employee ‘break out’ area where he anticipates being awarded his tenth “EotM”, but instead he is fired – due to the global financial crisis and his lack of a college-level education. Totally shocked, Larry takes action to improve his dire situation – behind in his mortgage with no income at all. He unsuccessfully searches for another job, so he enrols in a Communications and Economics course at the local College. He buys himself a scooter to keep transport costs down, much to the delight of his neighbour Lamar (by Cedric the Entertainer), who swapped the bike for Larry’s four-wheel drive. In a totally new environment, Larry tentatively attends his classes – Communications is taught by the talented but disinterested Mercedes Tainot (by Julia Roberts) who is unhappy but dutifully provides the course to her small class; the huge Economics class is led by Dr Ed Matsutani (by George Takei), a well known and bizarrely intense academic who delivers his classes in a focussed, no-nonsense but unorthodox way. The mild-mannered Larry observes the activity around him without fuss – even when others at College are intrusive and annoying. Larry gets to know a fellow student Talia (by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her eclectic group of friends. As the semester progresses, Larry begins to excel in his classes – but in an even better surprise outcome, Larry’s life takes a huge turn for the better.
This is a straightforward movie and there’s not much to it, but the messages are really nice. Larry just accepts his lot and the life going on around him then gets on with things. We are reminded that people come in all forms and that everyone has their own place, their own life and their own contribution to make – age, culture, gender and socio-economics is irrelevant. That positive message is a nice one. The acting here is just so-so, it seems that Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks didn’t really need to do too much. The most entertaining character is Dr Matsutani – George Takei plays him as so strange, he’s hilarious. In general, this movie is quite sweet.
Made 2011. Directed by Tom Hanks.