Tom Hanks Seems Lost in "Larry Crowne"

For a movie called Larry Crowne, it sure is tough to get a solid read on the character of Larry Crowne. As the film opens, Larry seems content with his lot in life — before being fired for lacking a college education from his job at U-Mart, a big-box store chain with the corporate culture of Walmart and the dress code of Target. This starts Larry off on a process of personal reinvention that finds him enrolling in community college, becoming a motor-scooter enthusiast, and almost inadvertently wooing his age-appropriate teacher (Julia Roberts). Directed, cowritten by, and starring Tom Hanks in the title role, the film seems to want to be some kind of postrecessional "It Gets Better" video for the struggling, aging-out American middle class. But Hanks turns Larry into something disconcertingly untethered. If Hanks is aware that Larry's wallet chain is less a symbol of hip rebirth than a signal of a geezer hopelessly chasing youth, as a filmmaker, he doesn't have the teeth to reveal it. (99 minutes; rated PG-13)


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