LARRY CROWNE pretty much falls apart right after the Universal Studios logo. If the CIA is reading this, you need not look any further than LARRY CROWNE as the perfect weapon to torture terrorists. This film is the equivalent of the useless gift that eventually ends up being used as a paperweight. Universal executives, Mr. Tom Hanks, and Ms. Julia Roberts ABSOLUTELY MUST have recognized they had a dead whale on their hands because to otherwise think that they actually thought they had created a gem depresses the hell out of me. If you can’t tell, I loathed LARRY CROWNE and it has the distinction of becoming the worst film of 2011 (trust me, no film can or will be worse than this one).

Tom Hanks plays the titular character, a Target-style store employee who gets laid off and cannot find other work because he only has a high school diploma. Convinced that he must get an education before he can land a job, Larry enrolls in community college and signs up for a speech class taught by Professor Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), an unmotivated instructor who comes to school with a hangover, which is prompted by the fact that she’s married to an asshole. In an attempt to cut down his living expenses, Larry trades his gas-guzzling SUV for a scooter, becomes a short order cook, and sells his house. Also, for reasons unknown to me or the audience, he joins a group of dipshit motorscooter enthusiasts who give him a new haircut, the alias, “Lance Corona,” and feng shui his house. Seriously.

LARRY CROWNE contains many, and I mean MANY, “what the fuck?” moments. Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos, the co-screenwriter of this film and the screenwriter/star of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, probably figured it would be a good and timely idea to write a story about the recession and its attendant unemployment. However, because Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos probably live in a world that’s set far apart from the realities lived by the rest of America, they had no fucking clue what its like to lose your job, have no money, and have zero prospects in life. Throughout this film, you will wonder about the following headscratchers: 1.) How did Tom Hanks ever afford to live in a house and drive a brand new SUV with the pay he got at faux-Target, 2.) How does Tom Hanks afford his community college classes, 3.) Why would Tom Hanks join a group of motorscooter enthusiasts and, more importantly, what kind of fucktards form motorscooter clubs, 4.) Why is Tom Hanks’ classmate so interested in changing his wardrobe, why does Tom Hanks allow this, and how can Tom Hanks afford to change his wardrobe when he has no money and, 5.) Why does Julia Roberts fall in love with Tom Hanks after she discovers that he kept her secret about kissing him the night before when she was drunk? This film is a cornucopia of shit that doesn’t make sense and to that end, LARRY CROWNE can potentially make a good party movie to sit around baked and guess the things that don’t make sense.

LARRY CROWNE commits the cardinal sin that I deplore the most from studios: making a movie that solely depends on the star wattage of the film’s actors rather than on telling a good story. If any poor soul out there even begrudges a slim liking to this film, it will be completely due to the fact that the movie stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. These actors are not interesting or likeable in LARRY CROWNE so the only enjoyment you will get from seeing them in this film will be from the memories that will rush back to you of the better movies you have seen them in the past. Hanks plays up his patented goofy, Mr. Nice Guy charm to a level that drips of saccharine and borders on self-satire. Also, I don’t know if he realizes this, but I for one could clearly see all the anti-aging makeup they put on him to make him look younger (ditto for Julia Roberts). As for Roberts, I wasn’t sure if she’s supposed to be hung over throughout most of the movie or just plain bored, but whatever she was attempting to do is so unconvincing and half-assed, that it becomes plainly obvious that she made this film as a favor for her buddy Tom. There is a subplot involving Roberts and her jerk of a husband. Now I was never sure whether her husband was cheating on her or that she dumped him solely because he looks through porn. The movie also never makes clear whether her lack of enthusiasm in teaching her class is due to her bad relationship or if its due to something else. All of this amounts to a poorly developed character arc that results in us never caring for Roberts and, consequently, we don’t care whether or not she and Tom Hanks will get together.

If there is anything positive to scrape from the bottom of this barrel, it would be the funny performance given by George Takei as Tom Hanks’ economic professor. Its not a performance that will be remembered by year’s end, but the rest of the film is so bad that the average moments in the movie shine through much more than they otherwise would.

LARRY CROWNE failed to engage me on any level. Its nice that Mr. Hanks has undertaken the Herculean effort of writing, producing, directing, and starring in his own movie, but maybe he should stop doing that from now on. He’s done it twice and he’s screwed it up twice (the other film being 1995’s THAT THING YOU DO). Nothing ever happens in this movie. Whatever conflicts the characters face, they are resolved immediately and in preposterous fashion. I wasn’t expecting a raunchy comedy, but I also wasn’t expecting a comedy that, at best, forced me to smile a couple of times just to make the purchase of my movie ticket a little worth it. Had this film been in the right hands, it could have turned into a wonderful Frank Capra-esque allegory for our economic times. Instead, LARRY CROWNE feels more like something that was concocted by the Beverly Hills Ladies Society over tea and cucumber sandwiches.

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