I was going to start this review with some snarky comment about Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts co-starring in a romantic comedy, and my time machine working. I have to say, however, it takes this movie all of 10 minutes to remind you why Tom Hanks can use Academy Awards as bookends. This film definitely follows the formula of a romantic comedy, but in such a stylish and quirky way that you almost don’t notice.
Larry Crowne (Hanks) is living the American nightmare. Because he never went to college, he is laid off from his job despite the fact that he is a bright, enthusiastic employee. To correct this shortcoming in his résumé, he enrolls in community college, where he meets a rag tag group of students in a public speaking class taught by Mrs. Tainot (Julia Roberts). She is in a miserable marriage and finds Larry’s helpful, friendly style refreshing. Meanwhile, a young student Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) discovers a shared love of scooters and takes Larry under her wing.
This film is charming, beautifully acted, and very well-written. Roberts, who normally relies on her lilting laugh and hypnotic smile, ventures slightly out of her comfort zone. And Hanks makes you believe with ease that a gorgeous, educated woman could fall for an unemployed community college student. I was very pleasantly surprised. LN