Larry Crowne

July 10, 2011 - Tom Hanks gets laid off, goes back to school, joins a scooter gang and gets hot for teacher in this film directed by Hanks and written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Julia Roberts is the teacher. George Takei, Pam Grier and Rita Wilson have smaller roles. And, watch Gugu Mbatha-Raw in what could be a break-out performance.

Hanks plays Larry Crowne, a divorced man who's retired from the Navy and now works at some K-Mart like store in California. One day, he's called to a meeting with the managers. Larry suspects he'll be named Employee of the Month – again. But, instead, he gets laid off.

As Larry pounds the pavement looking for work, he realizes that his lack of a college education is severely limiting his opportunities. So, he heads to the local community college where an administrator advises him to sign up for a business class and a public speaking class. They'll change your life, he says.

Roberts plays Mercedes Tainot, the instructor of said public speaking class. She's beaten down by a lazy, porn-surfing husband and by uninterested students. She shows a flicker of excitement when it appears the class will be cancelled due to low enrollment, but Larry comes in at the last minute, so the class – and the movie – go on.

Overall review: ** Not a terrible movie, but it seems to be missing, I don't know, the energy, the "something," to push it above average. My favorite scenes involved Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She plays Talia, a young woman who takes Larry under her wing and draws him into her tight-knit gang of scooter enthusiasts. Maybe if the movie were about her, it would have been more interesting.