LARRY CROWNE (Rated PG-13) 2 Stars07-20-11-larry-crowne-movie-poster.jpg

Watching Larry Crowne (99 min-utes) is like sinking back into a nice posturepedic bed with a tequila and prune juice smoothie in one hand and a copy of The Bridges of Madison County in the other. See what I did there? I compared watching the movie to being old! In the interest of fairness, (or to avoid ageism) I know plenty of the over-65 set who jump out of planes and like to ride motorcycles. But that’s not the kind of person who is going to see Larry Crowne. They’re all over in the theater next door, watching Transformers 3, with the rest of the free world. But not me, since I’d sooner bite my own arm for blood than vali-date Michael Bay’s “vision.” So really, watching Larry Crowne was an act of defiance, flung in the face of people that insist Michael Bay is an actual director instead of what he really is — a carica-ture of a human being.

I was all set to watch a sort of modern Death of a Salesman, or possibly an existentialist commentary on the plight of the modern American working man. Nope. Nothing happens in this movie. NOTHING. Just Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts phoning it in while a cast of supporting characters tries desperately to be real people instead of poorly drawn robots. Well, Sulu is pretty cool, if you’re looking for a professorial role model. His evil laugh was the highlight of the movie, all the more so because his class has no idea how to respond, which is what usually happens when I try to crack jokes in my classes. Although he is much nicer about the cell phone issue than I am. He just takes the phones. You don’t want to know what I do with them.

Seriously though, this movie is blander than a bulk container of generic oatmeal. We open with what I am pretty sure is The Traveling Wilbury’s, in case you had any doubt about who this movie is for. Larry Crowne (Hanks channeling Forrest Gump more than he probably realizes, what with clarifying “Crowne with an E” every time he meets someone) is a charming enough guy, expending an awful lot of energy for his corporate masters, but seemingly happy with his place in the scheme of things. That all changes when his big-box store downsizes him out of his job, in an overdone scene done much better in other movies and televi-sion shows (even a partial list would take up the rest of the review space so do your own research on this one).

After a few scenes with his neighbor (Cedric the Entertainer, who is not, ahem, entertaining me at the moment), Larry decides to go back to school. Finding financial aid, enrolling and picking his class schedule takes him all of an afternoon, so this movie immediately loses a star for crossing over into the science-fiction genre. He ends up in a class taught by Mercedes Tainot (Roberts), who apparently lives in some wonderful alternate universe where professors can cancel classes that are too small without consulting administration, and with no apparent financial repercussions. Too bad Crowne shows up just in time which forces Tainot to hold class. She gives a horrendous first day speech (Wow. I hope I don’t come off that preachy in my first day lectures.), and Crowne heads to his next class.

The rest of the movie goes down pretty much how you expect it to from the trailers. Wilmer Valderama shows up looking better than he usually does, and Pam Grier shows up looking much worse than she usually does. In the name of humanity, why have we decided to let Nia Vardalos continue to write movies? Overall, it was tremendously depressing to watch actors making such terrible, terrible choices. But maybe you’re into that sort of thing.

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