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Two Stars, No Chemistry

Even Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts can't save Larry Crowne

Talia finds Crowne’s nerdiness charming, and takes on the job of making him hip. She oufits him with cool duds, rearranges the furniture in his place, even admits him to the scooter gang that she and her boyfriend ride in. Uniformly, Crowne’s classmates find him fascinating, and his economics and communications professors — Dr. Matsutani (Takei) and Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) respectively — discover that he’s an excellent pupil. Actually, Tainot isn’t initially impressed with Crowne, perhaps due to the mind fog she suffers during her morning class, thanks to her one-margarita-too-many-the-night-before habit with which she dulls the reality of her failing marriage. Her husband Dean (portrayed nicely by Bryan Cranston) is supposed to be home writing blogs while she teaches, but she knows he’s really surfing porn. Of course, the statuesque (we watch her from bottom to top in multiple scenes as she tucks her sensuous slender feet into stiletto heels), beautiful-as-ever, academic-minded Tainot bails on her marriage — no need for a spoiler alert, as it’s there in the trailer — and falls for her grown-up student (who, we learn in one uncomfortable scene with his young college friend, prefers briefs to boxers). Alas, while a Hanks-Roberts screen romance once seemed feasible, the chemistry is just no longer there.

At least twice in Larry Crowne, the camera freezes on Hanks, his face looking oddly 20 years younger than it should, his expression goofily puzzled, his taut eyes attempting to spill tears over either his folly or his good fortune.  Could it be Botox?  What Larry Crowne and Tom Hanks both need is to get real.

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