Hanks still holds rom-com Crowne

IN times of economic turbulence, the subject of redundancy is raw for many.

Thursday, 7th July 2011, 3:16 pm

Even those who have long-served their employers are facing the boot, and with unemployment soaring it’s hard to get away from the misery.

So it’s nice to see Tom Hanks both directing and starring in a film which takes a tough topic and shines a hopeful ray of light in its face.

Larry Crowne (Hanks) is a super hard-working team leader who has made employee of the month eight times. Rather than picking up his ninth gong, he’s made redundant from his supermarket job because he doesn’t have a degree, despite a perfect record of experience under his belt.

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Because paper qualifications mean everything these days, Crowne decides to become a student at the community college, where he makes a gang of new friends and develops a puppy-love crush on his unhappily married teacher, Mercedes (Roberts).

The film leaves us rooting for the little man but the plot is so sweet at times it practically gives you toothache.

Our affable hero spends his time dashing around after Mercedes like an over-enthusiastic student looking for another gold star sticker to add to his collection.

Then there’s the scenes treating us to his progress in speech classes, joining a scooter gang and landing a part-time job, which is all very much in the spirit of community, but given this is supposed to be about Larry Crowne’s life, it’s a bit redundant.

While Roberts’ character is well-rounded, thawing gradually from borderline alcoholic to someone infected by Crowne’s enthusiasm in spite of her cynicism, the pairing lacks development and their budding romance ends up a little lukewarm.

It’s not helped by Hanks’ middle-of-the road nice guy persona, but it’s a character he’s crafted over the years.

It’s not the most exciting film in the world but if ‘never-too-late’ themes float your boat, it’s perfectly reasonable viewing.