A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this drama stars Tom Hanks as a recently downsized man adrift in life who decides to go to college. Julia Roberts co-stars as a bitter teacher stuck in a bad marriage who relishes her end-of-day drinks just a bit more than she should. The film's messages about finding unexpected joy in life are positive and uplifting, but unfortunately they're delivered in a superficial way. Expect some flirting and kissing, brief but strong swearing (including "f--k"), and ogling of online photos of bikini-clad women. One character drives drunk -- but there are consequences for that decision.
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What's the story?
Unmoored for the first time in ages after his company downsizes, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) finds the ground suddenly unstable. He's upside down on his mortgage and doesn't know what to do next. So he buys a second-hand motor scooter, signs up for classes at the local community college, and re-tools himself for this modern, confusing age. His economics professor (George Takei) is brilliant but eccentric; his new pal, Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), is a free spirit who wants to make him over. But it's the alluring, unmotivated speech class professor, Mercedes (Julia Roberts), who really knocks Larry off his feet.
Is it any good?
This movie feels like it's shooting for indie sweetness, but, alas, no dice. We really want to like LARRY CROWNE -- the movie, not the man. The character is plenty likeable, seeing as he's played by one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood, and the film is timely and potentially inspiring, focusing on a guy who's lost his job and needs to find a new path in a changing, economically shifting world. But instead of really digging into such fertile material, the filmmakers (including writer/director Hanks and co-screenwriter Nia Vardalos) have created a surprisingly superficial, tonally confusing movie that wants viewers to believe that Larry finds strength in being re-styled by a classmate and propositioned by a teacher who he says changed his life ... even though she doesn't want to invest too much energy in actual teaching.
The supporting characters are, for the most part, stereotypes (tough guy with a soft heart; quirky chick; porn-surfing, underemployed husband) and situations are wrung for profundity even when there's none. Still, the movie has a little charm thanks to its megawatt leads, who can sell almost anything. (Nearly.)