Jungle
Larry Crowne

Larry Crowne

Movie
Studio(s): 
Director(s): 
In Theatres: 
Jul 01, 2011
Grade:
B+

Larry Crowne is man just floating above water. Two years after an emotionally and economically brutal divorce, he’s climbed the ladder to become team leader at “UMART” (the unholy offspring of Target & Wal-Mart), winning several “Employee of the Month” Awards and starting every day with a smile. That is, until he is unceremoniously fired for not having obtained the college education required for his position and his 20 years in the Navy as a culinary specialist count for nothing with UMART management.
 
Crushed but persistent Crowne tries to find another job, but in this wretched economy, no one will hire him. To make things worse, Larry’s about to default on his mortgage thanks to an unhelpful bank.
 
Trying to make cuts wherever he can, Larry buys a scooter from his always haggling, daily yard selling neighbor, Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer). To improve his chances at better employment that will allow him to keep his home, Crowne enrolls at a local community college.

He makes quick friends with free-spirited flirt, Talia; played by the beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw.  Through their mutual scooter ownership, Larry is inducted into Talia’s scooter gang. They ride together, eat together, and begin to change Larry’s outlook on life through the power of Feng-Shui and fashion.

One of the classes Crowne chooses is the strangely covers the topic of making informal remarks. It's similar to a speech class but more relaxed and on very common topics. It's much more the "art of conversation" than "the art of speech". 

Taught by the alcohol soaked reluctant professor Mercedes Tainot (pronounced TAY-NO), the class and its students do not seem too promising, but provide a wealth of comedy. Undoubtedly these scenes are where the best laughs were to be had thanks to Rami Malek's slacker student and Malcolm Barrett's dance enthusiast and Star Trek geek (which is very apt considering the role of George Takei as Crowne's economics professor).

Tainot becomes interested in Crowne when she believes he's dating Talia when really; Talia's been trying to set them up! Tainot & Crowne's relationship begins as Tainot's marriage is reaching the end of its rope. The relationship hits all of the predictable points, however, it was a welcome change to see this happening to two imperfect older adults. It offers nuance and feeling of reality.

Just as this is Crowne’s second chance at life, this is Tom Hanks’ second experience with directing and like Crowne himself, he does surprisingly lovely job. However, The best thing about the movie may also be what keeps it from being fully satisfying.

The cast is just full to the brim with talented actors and comedians who play such engaging characters (Taraji P. Henson and Pam Grier are vastly underutilized!).  This glut of talent with such a limited run time inevitably means these characters don't get the screen time they should; especially once Larry+Mercedes story line takes precedence. The whole time I was wondering what the co-star’s characters where up to and kept feeling that this movie would operate better as a television show.  With a weekly format, these engaging characters could be further expanded.

Maria Jackson
Review by Maria Jackson
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