Larry Crowne (2011)
Reviewed on 2013 December 25
This movie really irritated me. I wondered why this got such a mediocre (or worse) reaction from critics and other viewers, until I watched this thing myself the other night.
Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is the ultimate go-getter team lead at some vague big box store, that for our purposes here look like someone mated a Wal-Mart with a Best Buy. Larry is a shoe-in for a promotion or recognition, or so he thinks, and bounces into the office of his superiors one sunny morning, only to get the ax. It turns out that Larry has been “right-sized” by management because he doesn’t have a college degree. Never mind that Larry is the ultimate upbeat employee and his subordinates seem to like him: he needs a degree. I love learning and education, but to tell this guy he could have done an even better job than his already outstanding work was ridiculous. And that didn’t bother me, because in corporate America stuff like this happens all the time. (For the record I’ve worked at lovely places and places like Larry’s job.) These first ten minutes or so are decent; here we had a guy get slapped in the face by life, a daily occurrence in this economy, and I thought we were going to see a thoughtful movie about that.
Larry mopes for a bit, then snaps back with a vengeance, relentlessly upbeat in his pursuit of some speaking and economics courses. He meets some young twenty-something friends along the way and from here the whole movie handles the spectre of economic downsizing and the “goodies” that come with it as though it were an adventure or theme park ride. Wheeeeeeeeeee!
Another viewer called this thing condescending and I couldn’t have said it better myself. I understand life throws us curve balls, sometimes ones dipped in curare and coated with spikes, and we need to deal with it. Poor Larry complained to a neighbor — once, and mildly — about his life being upended and was told not to whine because the world was his oyster. That floored me, because that might have been applicable to a twenty- or early thirty-something that simply has to bounce to a smaller apartment for a bit. Larry is at an age where this is very, very hard to recover from. Up In The Air handled this with a lot more sensitivity. If that’s not cloying enough be sure and watch the cutesy-poo ending credits.