Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Want Me a Scooter Now!

Over this past holiday season I indulged in a bit of home cinematic entertainment (translation: I watched a lot of DVDs). As a result, chances are pretty good that my next few blog posts might be pretty heavy on my world famous movie reviews. I’ll do my best not to disappoint.
To start us off is a movie that I really didn’t hear much about when it was in the theaters but is a special little feel good gem, Larry Crowne. 
                                           Here's my quickie synopsis:                                      
Larry Crowne (portrayed by the One and Only Tom Hanks, and yes you’re required to use “one and only” in the introduction) is a divorced, middle-aged retail salesman. He’s loving his job at U-Mart (translation: Walmart) and very good at it until he is fired for lack of a college education. (Aside: U-Mart must think pretty highly of themselves to require their floor people have college degrees. Some of the workers I see everyday at Walmart look like they can barely spell Walmart)
Underwater on his mortgage and unable to find another retail job, Larry decides on a major life change and starts taking courses at a nearby college. Larry finds his mind opened to so much more than just communications class and microeconomics as he makes new friends in classes and finds himself inducted into the campus “scooter gang”.
It’s during his Speech 217 class where Larry meets Mercy Tainot (played by screen goddess and all around “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts). Ms. Tainot (Tay-no, not Tie-knot or Tae-Bo), who teaches 217, has become disillusioned with her job and her life in general.  Cynical, a bit of a boozehound and married to a porn-seeking, unemployed former professor turned “blogger”, Mercy also finds her own life changed with the unexpected new arrival to her class. Fun and hilarity ensue.
Now for the meat to this cheese: My take
I really wasn’t sure what to expect of Larry Crowne. Sure it has two of the biggest A-listers in Hollywood in it and was written by Nia Vardalos (my mad respect to anyone who can tell me her biggest claim to fame), but it didn’t really make any huge screen buzz and couldn’t be anywhere near considered a blockbuster. When it was over, I was so glad I took a chance on it (Figured any movie with Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in it couldn’t be half bad). It was a lighthearted look at reinventing yourself when life takes a turn for the worse. Larry is a lot braver than I might be in a similar circumstance. I suppose in this case you could say necessity was the mother of reinvention. He gets fired for lack of education so he goes to get more education. He is spending hundreds a month on gas for his big honking SUV so he gets himself a scooter. Things old Larry Crowne wouldn’t normally do.
Tom Hanks is a good match for the optimistic and amiable Crowne. He creates a character that is likeable and relatable. One way or another we’ve all been in Larry’s shoes at some point in life. In contrast we have Mercy who seems to have more or less given up on the joys of life (minus the more than occasional margarita). It isn’t until Larry with his infectious personality comes into her life that she finally begins to see what’s been missing in hers and finds her joy again.

The plot was a bit contrived and very predictable and the comedy not exactly of the “laugh out loud” variety, but I still got much amusement out of watching Larry get into what would normally be very awkward situations for most middle-aged men (c’mon now, riding around on a Zipper and giving a thumbs-up to the guy on the Harley?) We don’t get overly dramatic here so if you’re looking for that then best move on from this movie.
I also quite enjoyed the ensemble cast. The free-spirited, Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her gang of scooter enthusiasts, Larry’s outrageously self-promoting neighbor, Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer), and Steve (Rami Malek) and the rest of his fairly clueless Speech classmates just add more personality and fun factor to the variety of people that come into Larry’s life throughout the movie.
 If you’re looking for something extremely thought provoking and intense, this is not your movie. Go see Inception or something similar. If you’re looking for lighter fare with a good cast of characters then give this movie a try.
On my own personal scaling system I would give Larry Crowne 7 out of 10 stars.

1 comment:

  1. Fun! I haven't seen this yet, but kinda want to now. :)