Larry Crowne (2011)
Tom Hanks always excelled at playing the regular guy who captured the beautiful girl, and so it is no wonder that his new film Larry Crowne - the first he has directed since That Thing That You Do! - should be another go at that. With Julia Roberts as his love-interest, the table was set for a Tom Hanks swansong as a romantic-comedy lead.
And in all fairness, to the extent that Larry Crown actually works, it is because of Hanks' reliable and likeable persona. His title character isn't very interesting per se, but that wouldn't be much of a problem if he were surrounded by interesting, recognisable and charming characters and situations. He isn't. On the contrary, he is surrounded by old-fashioned movie archetypes acting like brats, and as if that wasn't enough, writer/director Tom Hanks writes and treats his characters (including his own) as children, giving the film a puerile, unattractive quality which kills any hope of romance, not to speak of comedy.
It is therefore rather symptomatic that the only truly romantic scene in the movie is the final one, where it feels like we're simply watching Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts embrace and kiss, instead of the goofy characters they've put on for the past hour-and-a-half. Tom Hanks doesn't need to go out of his way to play a regular guy (for instance through joining a ridiculous "scooter gang" of stereotypes); he is a regular guy. With Larry Crown, the banal script gets in the way of itself, tampering whatever chemistry the performers could have had. It still is hard to resist the pleasant mushiness of Hanks and Roberts finding the tone together. It's just a shame we had to go through this dumb film to get there.