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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tom Hanks
Cast:
Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Cedric the Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier, Rita Wilson, Rob Riggle, George Takei
Writing Credits:
Tom Hanks, Nia Vardalos

Synopsis:
Academy Award® winners Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts come together for a romantic and optimistic comedy about how it's never too late to reinvent yourself. When he suddenly finds himself without his long-standing blue-collar job, Larry Crowne (Hanks) enrolls at his local college to start over. There, he becomes part of an eclectic community of students and develops a crush on his teacher (Roberts). Now this simple guy will discover that when you think everything worth having has passed you by, you just might find your reason to live.

Box Office:
Budget
$30 million.
Opening Weekend
$13.006 million on 2973 screens.
Domestic Gross
$52.273 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 99 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 11/15/2011

Bonus:
• “The Making of Larry Crowne” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• “Fun on Set”
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Larry Crowne [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 2, 2011)

With Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts as its stars, how could 2011’s Larry Crowne flop? Because it’s not 1999 anymore?

No, I don’t think that Hanks and Roberts have lost all box office value, but they seem far from their glory days, and Crowne did nothing to change that. Despite a prime July 1 release date intended to push it as “mature counterprogramming” against the Transformers: Dark of the Moon juggernaut, the flick totally flopped. Crowne grossed a mere $35 million and made little dent with moviegoers.

Quiet, character-based movies occasionally strike it rich in the summer – co-writer Nia Vardalos’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding showed this with its $241 million take in 2002 – but they’re rare beasts. Larry Crowne (Hanks) loves his job as a team leader at “big box” store UMart – until he gets downsized due to his lack of a college degree. This shocks him and leaves him adrift, as he possesses an “underwater mortgage” and other financial concerns due to his divorce.

Unable to land a new job, Larry heads to community college to bolster his marketability. He signs up for a mix of classes that would seem to help him develop new skills and prevent a repeat of the UMart firing.

As one of his classes, he ends up in Speech 217: The Art of Informal Remarks. Taught by Mercedes Tainot (Roberts), she’s burned out by too many disinterested students and her need to carry slacker husband Dean (Bryan Cranston), a writer who putzes around all day when he should work on a new novel. We follow Larry’s journey and how it affects those around him, with an emphasis on Mercedes.

Crowne marks only Hanks’ second stint behind the camera, as it marks his first directorial effort since 1996’s That Thing You Do!, another commercial disappointment. Thing was a less notable box office dud, though, as it lacked the star power of Crowne; yeah, Hanks himself played a role, but he was a supporting actor, and no one else boasted marquee appeal back then. (Liv Tyler and Charlize Theron would go on to stardom later.)

Over the last 15 years, Thing has been able to find a good cult audience and earn the appreciation that escaped it in 1996. I don’t foresee such a fate for Crowne due to one simple factor: unlike the delightful Thing, Crowne is a pretty lousy movie.

Oh, it’s a peppy lousy movie, and a peppy lousy movie that actually manages some fun and charm during its first 18 minutes or so. The flick includes some good performers and loose, irreverent laughs, especially when Larry goes to his haggling neighbor Lamar’s (Cedric the Entertainer) never-ending yard sale. Crowne doesn’t quite soar, but it has some light pleasures.

And then Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) arrives. Larry’s econ classmate and Official Irrepressible Free Spirit, Talia is the most annoying character in a movie packed with annoying characters. That’s the movie’s main flaw, really: it shows us a wide range of wacky personalities with little other purpose than to be wacky. Occasionally it feels like nothing more than a conglomeration of these cartoony characters, and the impish Talia acts as their queen.

I chalk this development up to the presence of Vardalos as co-writer. Greek Wedding was a virtual warehouse for broad, obnoxious roles; even the great Andrea Martin couldn’t elevate the awful material, and that issue consistently mars Crowne. I’ve never seen Mbatha-Raw before, and I’m sure she’s a lovely woman, but every time Talia hopped onto the screen, I wanted to smash my TV.

The more I think about it, the more I really suspect the script accounts for 95 percent of the film’s problems. The entire thing seems so relentlessly contrived and artificial, and that goes double for the relationship between Larry and Mercedes. Everything the movie does acts to push them together for no logical reason other than Tom and Julia are big stars so they’re supposed to get smoochy-smoochy.

The narrative – if we can call this loose assemblage of moments that – finds little reason to motivate events. Instead, they just kind of occur. Larry goes through a big transformation because Talia inexplicably develops a great fondness for him, and a relentless parade of nutty characters show up along the way.

All of this attempts to pass for entertainment and charm, but after the reasonably likable start, it peters out quickly. Much of that comes from the annoying Talia, but even without her, I think Crowne would quickly lose steam. It’s essentially a self-help book morphed into a fairly formless character comedy that can’t overcome its inherent phoniness.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B/ Bonus NA

Larry Crowne appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though much of the film looked good, the transfer didn’t quite live up to my expectations for Blu-ray.

Sharpness appeared fine for the most part, but exceptions occurred. At times, wider shots could be a bit tentative, and the same was sometimes true for interiors. Nonetheless, the image maintained good definition and clarity much of the time. No issues connected to jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also remained absent.

Color reproduction looked positive. Much of the flick used an amber tint, though not to an extreme. These tones were never great, but they appeared reasonably positive. Blacks came across as deep and tight, and shadows offered perfectly acceptable delineation. I thought the image was generally good, but the softness left it as a “B-“.

In terms of audio, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack fit the flick well. The soundfield tended toward ambience, though the scenarios allowed it to pop to life at times. In particular, UMart scenes or street environments contributed fairly good material; they weren’t dazzling, but they opened up the room in a satisfying way. I especially liked the way scooters zoomed around the environment. Music added good stereo presence as well. Nothing about the soundfield stunned me, but it brought some zing to the flick.

Audio quality remained positive. Speech was consistently concise and distinctive, with only a little edginess along the way. Music appeared lively and full, and effects presented good punch. Those elements showed nice range and clarity. All of this added up to a solid “B” soundtrack.

The Blu-ray includes only a smattering of extras. It provides The Making of Larry Crowne, some Deleted Scenes and Fun on the Set. I’d love to discuss these, but I watched a rental version that lacked any bonus materials. In a cruel twist, the Blu-ray’s menu shows you the supplements and lets you try to access them, but when you do so, it tells you to buy the disc if you want to see them. That’s just mean!

The disc opens with promos for One Day, Beginners, Honey 2, The Change Up and The Scorpion King 3. No trailer for Crowne pops up here.

Despite a plethora of talent, Larry Crowne ends up as a disappointment. It’s amiable but aimless as it putters along toward a lackluster conclusion. The Blu-ray comes with good audio, decent but erratic image and some minor supplements. Crowne provides a mediocre diversion.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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