On a simple level, the three elements that make a film likable are entertainment value, smart story telling and something to say. It could have one or two, but it should ideally have all three. But a film that does not have even one of these is bound to disappoint. "Larry Crowne", Tom Hanks` second directorial venture, is a case in point.
After being laid off from his company for lack of college education, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) goes back to college. His interaction with his students and teachers helps him reinvent himself.
The trouble with Larry is that his character, as also the film, has no shades of emotion. Larry is one bad, blandly written character whose range of emotions does not change through the duration of the film. For a film whose name is based on the name of its protagonist, this is a cardinal sin.
Though positioned as a rom-com, there`s really no believable romance, and neither is there any comedy besides a few lines that make you chuckle. The funniest character in the film is that of a Japanese origin economics professor played by George Takei.
It is as if writer, director, star Tom Hanks was hankering on making a Robert Bresson film, which seems bland on the surface. However, this quietness of surface in Bresson`s masterpieces is merely a mask for an underlying depth and storm. Not even a whiff of any such luck for Hanks` film.
The film lacks sub-plots and there are conflicts in its story, consistency and flow. It does a bad job of even caricaturing people. Thus, you have your perennially smiling and "always happy for no reason" girl who is good to Crowne without motivation, a porn-surfing lazy husband, and worst of all Larry Crowne himself who is a single shade of confusion in the entire film.
And if you thought the star power of Hanks and Roberts would be enough, you might be sorely disappointed. Stars with their glorious past behind them, cannot afford mistakes like these, which for Hanks is a triple mistake - of writing, directing and acting.
There are plenty of good scripts floating in Hollywood, that could do with the kind of money that was wasted on this bland, stale and pointless film. Tom Hanks should go back to reading.