I picked Larry Crowne for its poster. It maybe a tribute to the endearing classic Roman Holiday but Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts riding gleefully on a scooter can never take a pass. Somehow, the sound of vintage scooters in movies enchants me. Old age scooters revving with low key grunts and hiccuping to a halt are something that I can enjoy in real life as well as reels. Aside from seeing lots and lots of scooters mostly in Indian and European movies, I feel that Hollywood doesn’t use them as much as they should. There’s cars and cars everywhere. Tom Hanks in good stead as the title character and also as the director of this delightful picture brings back the love for scootering with dollops of romance and light humor here and there.
Being an ardent fan of both Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and also for the stalwarts they are, I have been wondering for so long why they had to wait until 2009 to act in a movie together. Though Larry Crowne is only their second appearance together, they just breeze through their roles with great chemistry making me feel that we may have missed out one great on-screen pair during the 90s.
After being fired from his retail store job on account of his lack of educational background, Larry goes to college where he takes classes on Economics and Informal Speech. The tutor for the speech course played by Julia Roberts in her own Erin Brockovich face is halfway into depression through her marriage and job. Somehow, she connects with Larry amidst all those wryness in a charmingly oddball way. Scenes where they ride on the scooter at night or force a kiss out of desperation come off as sudden yet delightfully romantic. There is very little in the movie for a Julia Roberts fan who wants her face glow all the time with that gorgeous beaming smile yet her screen presence is uncannily magical here. I liked all those moments in the classroom, especially with the Economics professor and his eerie laughs. Scenes where Larry rides his scooter with his newfound gang are an absolute peach to watch.
Tom Hanks has been around for ages. For many outside US, he has been the darling actor throughout the last three decades. We have seen him play all kinds: a manic suburban husband, a resilient castaway, a slow-witted quirky billionaire, a romantic standup comedian, a passionate immigrant, a playboy politician, an adventurous symbologist, a traumatized war commander, a rebel homosexual lawyer, a famous astronaut, a relentless FBI agent, a vengeful mob enforcer, an empathetic jail guard, a brave pilot. It’s time we saw Tom Hanks direct all kinds.