Characters show little depth in low-key flick

2011-08-08 00:00

IF you head to see Larry Crowne and are expecting a traditional romantic comedy then you’re in for a bit of a shock.

Yes, there’s a bit of romance between the title character, played by the ever likeable Tom Hanks, and Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), but it’s pretty low key and takes most of the movie to come to fruition.

And that’s part of the problem with this film. Instead of offering you one genre, Hanks, who also directs, seems to toy with several, a buddy comedy and the “lovable hero at odds with the world” among them.

The film kicks off with Larry getting the boot from his company, the retail giant U-Mart, ostensibly because he didn’t go to college and the powers that be can’t see him moving up the corporate ladder.

Drowning in debt — his house is worth less than his mortgage — and unable to find another job, he decides to head back to college to study economics and the art of public speaking.

Riding a scooter to save money, he attracts the attention of the free-spirited Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), who gives him a make-over and invites him to be part of her scooter riding gang.

As his confidence grows he catches the eye of his public-speaking teacher Mercedes, who has lost her passion for teaching and is married to a deadbeat who likes surfing soft porn sites.

Not a happy bunny then — and Roberts plays her with a semi-permanent frown.

Sounds good on the surface, but because none of the characters have any real depth, it’s hard to empathise with them.

And while there are undoubtedly some very funny moments in Larry Crowne, you can’t help feeling rather short-changed. For diehard Hanks and Roberts fans only. **

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