Hanks' direction is flat, a talented cast is wasted in limp subplots and it floats in and out of your memory like a feather on the wind.
Picture this: a man loses his job, enrols in community college to get himself back on his feet and falls in with a ragtag group, rediscovering his zest for life in the process. Yes, that’s the premise of the sharp and movie-literate US sitcom Community.
Now imagine the same premise but with Tom Hanks starring and directing, Julia Roberts on board and support from fine actors like Bryan Cranston and Taraji P Henson, and you’ve got Larry Crowne.
Yet similar conceits are the only thing shared by Community and Larry Crowne. Where the former took a simple concept and injected it with wit and intelligence, this middle-aged romcom takes the same simple premise down a meandering path that never seems to end, stopping off for brief sojourns that prove utterly irrelevant.
It’s also a journey that's meaningless and anticlimactic, that forces you into the difficult position of being disappointed with a performer who was once one of the most amiable screen actors of his generation.
Aside from Hanks’ inherent appeal and an enjoyably hammy performance from George Takei, it’s hard to find any positives in Larry’s drama-free college days. He is an entirely average protagonist – a nice man, certainly, but not funny, smart, conflicted or possessing any real personality.
Roberts’ supposed love interest is even worse, progressing from bored teacher with a drink problem and a failing marriage to... well, we’re intended to believe Larry transforms her life, but when she’s been nothing but beastly to everyone around her for the majority of the film, it’s hard to understand why he would bother and, more importantly, why we should care.
Oddly, Larry Crowne has something in common with this week’s biggest release, Transformers: Dark of the Moon – a series of events happen, the film seems to last for days and at the end you feel nothing but exhaustion because the story never tried to move you. Hanks' direction is flat, a talented cast are wasted in limp subplots and it floats in and out of your memory like a feather on the wind in a much better Hanks film.
A-list leads, what could go wrong?
Laugh at Takei, like Hanks, try to keep your eyes open.
Severely lacking in drama, characters and substance.