Aisle Seat: Hank wears his ‘Crowne’ well

Larry Crowne: Three and a half stars out of 5

  • Jul. 10, 2011 7:00 a.m.
Student Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) sidles up to his teacher (Julia Roberts) in new film Larry Crowne.

Student Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) sidles up to his teacher (Julia Roberts) in new film Larry Crowne.

At one point in Larry Crowne, someone positively describes the titular character as “so 1950s.”

It’s a brand that pretty much sums up why I really, really liked this flick.

‘Course, that’ll inevitably be the exact reason many moviegoers won’t dig it.

Relentlessly sweet, this Tom Hanks project (he stars in it, he co-wrote it, and he directed it), Larry Crowne just doesn’t have a dark side.  The tale is pleasant, it’s humorous, it’s a tad offbeat –– and for me, it connected. But maybe that’s just me.

As Larry Crowne, Hanks is a slightly dorky middle-age guy who is suddenly let go from the Wal-Mart clone of a store that he not only works at, but that he loves.

Already swimming in debt and terrified that his lack of education will mean permanent unemployment, it’s off to community college, where Larry signs up for a speech course, taught by the beautiful-yet-hopelessly cranky Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts).

Mrs. Tainot has problems of her own; her husband, author of a series of cheesy sci-fi novels (Bryan Cranston), is spending less and less time during the day pounding out alien adventures, opting to devote more hours to surfing bikini babes on the internet.

While her relationship crumbles on the home front, her star pupil could never really be considered a “third party.” Larry simply emerges as a life preserver for Mercedes.

Every teacher needs to know they’re reaching and inspiring someone in a sea of blank faces, and for Mrs. Tainot, Larry is that guy. And, not to give away any big swerves, he becomes so much more.

Aside from George Takei’s cameo as a deliciously dour economics instructor, Larry Crowne isn’t drenched in outrageous wit. Rather, it’s a warm and very light offering in what’s becoming an increasingly loud and in-your-face summer season.

Again, it’s not for every taste. For me, however, it was a very quiet, very welcome and, in a welcome turn, a very encouraging escape.

The feature is currently playing at Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Jason Armstrong is the movie reviewer for The Morning Star. His column, Aisle Seat, appears every Friday and Sunday.