Larry Crowne: A film about fresh beginnings

Model retail employee Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) loved his job at U-Mart, that was until he got downsized for lacking a college education. With an economy in recession and job openings growing scarcer by the day, Larry decides to go to college to move up the ladder and to prove to himself that he can be so much more. At university, he meets burned out English teacher Mercy Tainot (Julia Roberts), a woman who feels like she isn’t making any difference in any of her students, an issue compounded by her husband’s mid life crisis and addiction to porn.

I was surprised by the lukewarm reception that this film got from critics when it was released last year (I caught it on video). The film stars not only Academy Award winner Tom Hanks but America’s sweetheart Julia Roberts in a heartwartming and inspirational tale about starting over, in a story that would be relateable to most regular people. But perhaps, it is because of the presence of these big stars that the movie was perceived to be average, because the bar is set higher and that people want more out of it.

First off, I think this is a great effort, especially for Tom Hanks who co-wrote the film with Big Fat Greek Wedding star and screenwriter Nia Vardalos. Vardalos’s brand of quirky humor was present in the film’s dialogue and Hank’s portrayal of a fifty-something caught off guard by the events of his life was laudable. What I liked about this movie was the general positivism that it exudes — even when Larry was in school, how he met and made friends because he was a good person and the fact that he was not judged because he was older than his classmates. I like how he evolved and how his confidence bloomed as he realized what he could accomplish. Even Julia’s story of breaking free from the negativity in her life is inspiring for women who are caught in a similar situation.

The film is truly simple. I can’t argue with that, but it carries a great message. Its the type of movie that makes audiences feel good after seeing it, more grounded, more inspired. I liked Larry Crowne because it spoke of possibilities. Larry’s journey and life lessons could be applied to the audiences’ own experiences. There are many things to be learned from the movie. But most of all, it tells us that it is never too late to start anew, and that sometimes, letting go gives us the chance to grasp new opportunities.