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REVIEW: Star Studded Cast Can't Save Tom Hanks' 'Larry Crowne'

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Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks star in "Larry Crowne."Universal Pictures

The economic crisis just claimed another victim: the movie-going public going to see 'Larry Crowne.'

Not sure if it wants to be a rom-com, social commentary, or inspirational drama, Tom Hanks’ second directorial feature, which focuses on one man's plight in the Great Recession, tries to do it all, and in the process, does basically nothing. 

Hanks is Navy vet Larry, a nine-time employee of the month at U-Mart who walked into work one morning to find he was out of a job. Crowne rushes to college hoping to be more employable.

There he encounters a circus of predictable characters. Crowne also hooks up with an unrealistic and stereotypical moped gang who use him as a pseudo Extreme Makeover project. This “biker” gang is supposed to represent a lifestyle so foreign to Larry, but the only life lesson he seems to learn from them is that polo shirts need not be tucked in.

Everything in “Larry Crowne” is a caricature of a caricature, so much so that it feels like a bad after school special on education and unemployment. Every character is an accentuated cardboard cutout, from the hyper-positive Larry, to the zombified Ms. Tainot (Julia Roberts), to the grumpy English professor who course corrects Larry’s life.

Even Roberts' porn-surfing husband (Bryan Cranston) and the haggling next-door neighbor (Cedric the Entertainer) are nothing more than wallpaper. 

All the ingredients are in “Larry Crowne” for a paint-by-number Tom Hanks success, but the star may have taken on too many roles this time. Acting, writing and directing might just be too much for the double Oscar-winner.

“Larry Crowne’s” only saving grace is George Takei’s (“Star Trek”) diabolical economics professor.  For a film that often tries too hard for laughs and life-is-good moments, Takei is the only worthwhile smile.

1 out of 5 stars

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