A Change of Life with Larry Crowne

It's a new year and I'm resolved to find more joy in 2019. How, you ask? Well, to start, I've decided to watch more Tom Hanks movies. Because I can't possibly go wrong with more Tom Hanks in my life.

To kick off my year of Tom Hanks, I chose Larry Crowne. It's a Tom Hanks movie that I hadn't yet seen. It's also directed by, co-written by, and starring Tom Hanks. That's a lot of Tom Hanks!

Now, the ratings I saw for Larry Crowne were pretty mixed, but I try to avoid reading reviews until I can form my own opinion. So, did Larry Crowne bring some joy to my day? Yes. 

I really enjoyed this film. It was a solid, change of life story, featuring a middle-aged Larry Crowne who found his new path through community college after being unceremoniously unemployed from his job at UMart.

There's a romantic twist with his public speaking teacher, Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts), whose life is also at a crossroad, both personally and professionally. (More on that later.)

Essentially, this was my kind of quiet, slice-of-life, feel-good film. It wasn't a tense drama or flashy action adventure. It was character-driven, though instead of getting deep into their psyches (which I do also enjoy), it showed glimpses of the forces that shape, and reshape, a person's life. 

In some ways, Larry Crowne took charge of his own life. Yet he also let himself be swept along by those around him. He relied on friends, both old and new. He put effort into his studies and put his new knowledge to practical use. His strength of character carried him through, and it was easy to see why others were drawn to his kindness. 

I loved the subtle elements of Larry's story. His determination to create a new path had originally kept him from making good use of his previous work skills. Yet, by the end of the movie, he'd accepted the value of his past experience and let it help him achieve his new goals. 

Honestly, the romantic angle was my least favorite part of this film. It was hard to like Mercedes, though I did eventually warm up to her (a bit). Maybe that was good though. She was in a bad place at the beginning of the film and it was making her unlikeable, even to herself. She hadn't entirely won me over by the end, but she showed promise, and change takes time.

Larry's new "gang" bordered on the absurd, but the weirdest of those moments (especially with Wilmer Valderrama's character) were really funny.  Unsurprisingly, George Takei was a hilarious standout as Larry's Econ professor. "They call them smartphones, but only dummies use them in my class."

Overall, the first movie in my Tom Hanks 2019 movie resolution was a good experience. Charming, steady, and uplifting. Just like Tom Hanks. 

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