In Larry Crowne Tom Hanks plays the title character an affable middle-aged floor manager at a big box department store who loses his job because he never went to college. Lacking a secondary income source (his wife divorced him a few years prior) and underwater on his mortgage he sets out to find new employment but is met with universal rejection. If any of these developments affect him in any significant way you can scarcely tell from his countenance: A plaintive drive home and the occasional watering of the eyes are the only indications of any kind of turmoil within.
All of which hints that Larry Crowne which Hanks also directed and co-wrote (with Nia Vardalos) might be one of those films in which a repressed and emotionally stunted individual gradually comes to face the pain he’s buried enjoys an epiphany or two and lets go of it all in a grand (and presumably Oscar-worthy) catharsis. (That or he shoots up a Dairy Queen.) Only it isn’t. It’s a breezy genial comedy about a guy who enrolls in a community college joins a crew of scooter-riders and hits it off with his speech teacher.
The teacher Mercedes (Julia Roberts) is everything Larry isn’t: dry cynical tired. She’s lost her passion for education and is mired in a toxic marriage with a noxious layabout (Bryan Cranston) whose novel-writing efforts are really just a cover for an internet porn obsession. There’s no reason the two should connect romantically other than the fact that he’s Tom Hanks and she’s Julia Roberts. This appraisal might as well extend to the film as a whole which skates by lazily on the charm and charisma of its two stars never deigning to proffer anything more substantial than their adorable mugs.
Among a rote and forgettable assemblage of supporting characters the only one who manages to register at all is Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) a coquettish free-spirited fellow-student who makes Larry her personal project re-arranging his living room upgrading his wardrobe and coaxing him to be more adventurous. Why she bothers to do any of this is never explained. Is she luring him into a shady business scheme? Is she the recruiter for an apocalyptic cult? An insatiable schlub fetish perhaps? Without any discernible motive we’re left to assume that she takes to him simply because he’s Tom Hanks. I mean who wouldn’t want to ride scooters with Tom Hanks? (I’ll tell you who: Al Qaida.)
Larry Crowne is a film I desperately wanted to like. Certainly its central message of perseverance and optimism in the face of hardship is a noble one. But aside from its two stars a few laughs and a handful of endearing moments there’s precious little to it. By the end of the film I felt like I barely knew any of these people despite having spent the last 90 minutes with them. Nor did I particularly want to know them. Except for Tom and Julia of course. Aren’t they just wonderful?
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Tom Hanks is making many headlines this week. Just yesterday he signed on to play Capt. Richard Phillips in a film based on the Somali Pirate saga and today Yahoo Movies has unveiled the first trailer for the Oscar winner's new directorial effort Larry Crowne. The story centers on the titular character who loses his longtime steady job and must reinvent himself by going back to college.
The film features an impressive cast, including Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Taraji P. Henson, Pam Grier, Jon Seda and Hanks good friend Nia Vardalos, who co-wrote the picture with him. You can see Larry Crowne on July 1st, when it hits theaters everywhere, but in the meantime check out the trailer below!
Source: Yahoo Movies
This is one of those Rocky-style films in which the climax is built-in. We know there's going to be a fight where the underdog goes up against the big bad champ. It's the rest of the movie that needs to keep our attention and luckily Undisputed does a decent job save a few scenes that could have been cut. When the world heavyweight boxing champ George "Iceman" Chambers (Ving Rhames) is sentenced to 6 to 8 years for rape he is sent to the newly built Sweetwater Maximum Security Prison in the Mojave Desert. Of course he vehemently denies the charges rages at his lawyers to find a way out of this mess and is generally in a pretty foul mood. In fact he bullies and pushes people around just about wherever he goes including Monroe Hutchens (Wesley Snipes) who as Chambers finds out is the reigning undisputed prison boxing champ--10 years running. Hutchens is a hero of sorts to the rest of the prisoners and this doesn't sit well with the Iceman. Seizing a glorious opportunity to make some serious cash longtime inmate and mob boss Mendy Ripstein (Peter Falk) sets up a boxing match between the two. He lures Hutchens into the ring on the promise of prize money to send home to his sister and three kids. For Iceman it's the chance to get out on special parole via mob ties to the parole board. For both it means a fight to the finish by London Prize Ring rules -- no referee lighter gloves and the last man standing wins. So who'll be king of the hill?
The fact that Rhames' Iceman is more than a little reminiscent of real-life boxing champ Mike Tyson and the legal woes he suffered a few years back is certainly not lost. Yet Rhames infuses his character with a certain intelligence and a lot of cocky bravado. When he is on the screen you can't take your eyes off him partly because he takes up half of it with his hulking mass. It's also kind of fun to see Rhames playing the baddie again although not quite as malevolent as Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction. Snipes also puts in a compelling performance as Hutchens who was on his way to being a boxing champ himself before he lost his cool in a crime of passion and wound up in prison for murder. Hutchens doesn't say much but quietly waits out his sentence making Japanese temples out of toothpicks. His character however comes alive when he is in the ring and for a man of little words Snipes looks good dealing out the punches. The supporting characters are hit and miss. Falk seems sorely out of place among all the hoodlums and just a little too senile to be believable as a tough-nut gangster. Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit) however as Hutchens' crony Ratbag lives up to his character's name nicely. Other inmates Jon Seda (Selena) as companion to Ripstein and Wes Studi (Last of the Mohicans) as the Iceman's only ally are also both memorable in small parts.
Action director Walter Hill best known for his '80s hits 48 Hrs. and The Long Riders seems to be trying out some new techniques in his older years. Without going for the typical opening credits Undisputed launches the audience right into a boxing match. Hill alternates between black and white and color to make his points but the most unique technique is how he introduces the characters. As each new character comes on screen they are immediately freeze-framed with titles detailing who they are when they were convicted and what they were convicted of. Doing this isn't necessarily a key to the story but you get to the point where you want it just because you are actually curious in finding out what crimes they've all committed. The film only drags when Rhames and Snipes are not on the screen and of course all the fancy camerawork really only pays off for the big finale. Watching these two animals duke it out in a cage is as exciting as you'd expect. Maybe not quite as bloody as say the ring action in Martin Scorsese's Raging Bull but fun nonetheless.
Sean "Puffy" Combs apparently has time to mix business with charges.
While attending the Grammys last week, prosecutors accused the rapper/mogul of trying to bribe his driver into taking the fall for a gun found in his vehicle after a New York club shooting in December. (He pleaded not guilty Tuesday to the bribery charges -- just as he had refuted gun possession charges in January.)
Though Combs' exact involvement in the incident is still in dispute, he's definitely hoping to be involved in the indie comedy "Made."
The Hollywood Reporter says he's in final negotiations to play the head of a New York-based syndicate. The fish-out-of-water tale marks the directing debut of actor-writer Jon Favreau. The story has Favreau and "Swingers" comrade Vince Vaughn playing boxers and lifelong pals who get involved in a money-laundering scheme. Combs will be the gun-toting, money-waving heavy (sound familiar?) to whom the boys owe a rather large debt.
"Made" would be Comb's big-screen debut. The entrepreneur was supposed to star in Oliver Stone's gridiron drama "Any Given Sunday," but dropped out due to other professional commitments (although the rumor mill ranges from conflicts with Stone to questions about Puffy's acting ability). His role as a self-centered, controversial quarterback eventually went to less-controversial Jamie Foxx.
Favreau wrote the script for "Made," and will produce with Vaughn. Filming is scheduled to begin next month -- in time for a mid-shoot break for Combs' next court appearance May 16.
BOMBS AWAY? "Armageddon" alum Ben Affleck is in talks to join the uber-producer's latest uber-production, "Pearl Harbor," today's Hollywood Reporter says. Affleck would be the biggest star yet to join Hollywood's biggest-ever budgeted flick.
DENZEL IN 'TRAINING': Denzel Washington, currently in the Best Actor Oscar race for playing boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in "The Hurricane," will hit the streets again in the Warner Bros.' drama "Training Day." According to trade paper reports, Washington's in serious talks to play a corrupt veteran cop who's assigned to train a rookie on his first day with the LAPD's undercover narcotics unit.
'UNBREAKABLE' PENN: Robin Wright Penn has the right instinct for "The Sixth Sense's" M. Night Shyamalan. The actress is in talks to play the female lead in the writer-director's follow-up project "Unbreakable." Previously, Julianne Moore had made sense until she dropped out to (reportedly) replace Jodie Foster in "Hannibal."
ONE OF THE 'GUYS': Ten years later, "China Beach" Emmy winner Dana Delany has found her way back to the small screen. She's getting set to star in the pilot for the NBC crime drama "Good Guys/Bad Guys."
The series, from "Homicide" creators Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, has been in development for two years. Daily Variety reports that Delany might be paired off with ex-"Homicide" co-star Jon Seda. The pilot involves an FBI agent (Delany) in pursuit of a dangerous Hispanic crime lord (Seda). Shooting's set to begin in Miami next week.
YO NORTON! Art Carney, aka Ed Norton from "The Honeymooners," will take on his beloved alter ego once again in a series of promo spots for cable's TV Land. The hat, the white T-shirt, the vest and of course the 81-year-old Carney himself -- the whole package is set to appear the week of March 13 as part of the network's celebration of the classic series. In the spots, Carney's Norton will dispense advice on everything from finding good Chinese food to getting a job in television.