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Movie Explores Funny Side Of Unemployment

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Tom Hanks explores lighter side of unemployment

By Kirk Honeycutt
Wed Jun 29, 2011

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Who knew that getting downsized could be such a "laff riot?"

Where "Company Men" found stark drama, even tragedy, in losing a job, Tom Hanks, ever the optimist, sees an opportunity for laughs and romance. The title character in "Larry Crowne" has his life go suddenly out of balance — and the film experiences a similar problem. Sure, the film is a romantic comedy starring Hanks and Julia Roberts, but every scene is on the prowl for laughs at the expense of the inherent drama in the lives of its colorful characters.

Fans of the two stars — among the most popular actors in Hollywood over the past two decades-plus — probably won’t mind the light, sitcom approach, but there was a much more meaningful, if somewhat darker, movie in the story Hanks dreamed up with the help of Nia Vardalos. Positioned perfectly for a July 4th weekend release, the film, which sees Hanks performing multiple duties of director, co-writer, co-producer and star, should be a winner at the box office.

The problematic approach is evident in the film’s first key scene. Hanks’ Larry Crowne, an affable middle-level manager of a big-box store, gets fired when new ownership dislikes the fact that he never went to college. But the scene is played for comedy. Certainly you can see the pain in Larry’s face, but the managers doing the dirty deed are smug, unfeeling caricatures.

This continues throughout the film. Roberts’ character, Mercedes [sic], a burned-out public-speaking teacher [sic], is caught up in a disastrously crumbling marriage. Her husband (Bryan Cranston) has gone from a respected published author to a deadbeat who surfs the Internet for porn. What caused such a profound change in the man — not to mention Mercedes’ sour attitude toward her job and students — is never investigated but rather used as the source for further comedy.

"Larry Crowne" mostly feels like the pilot for a sitcom that needs to set up several comic situations. Underwater with his mortgage and out of work, Larry holds a yard sale, which sets up the first situation: His neighbors (Cedric the Entertainer and Taraji P. Henson), living off the earnings of a big game-show win, hold daily yard sales, where the comic banter, bargaining and advice-giving fill several of the movie’s scenes.

Larry then decides to go to a community college, where the speech class taught by Mercedes and an Economics 1 course taught by George Takei’s weirdly funny professor set up two more sets of characters. Finally, when Larry trades in his gas-guzzling SUV for a motorbike, he gets recruited into a motorcycle "gang" headed by the vivacious Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her boyfriend Dell (Wilmer Valderrama).

Indeed, Talia — a dangerously beautiful young woman who develops a flirtatious relationship with the middle-aged Larry right under the wary eyes of her boyfriend — gives Larry a complete make-over: She performs feng shui on his house, redoes his entire wardrobe and threatens to completely distract the romantic comedy away from Hanks and Roberts…

Somehow, the movie keeps getting distracted from its own story — how a man reinvents himself and in so doing finds the woman of his dreams. The key problem might be the totally passive nature of its protagonist. In the opening scenes, Larry is shown as a proactive employee full of initiative. Understandably, he loses some of that drive when he gets fired. But from this point on, circumstances and other characters force him to change. He only goes along for the ride when Talia redoes his hair, attire and household or when a drunken Mercedes comes on to him.

Even when he does land a job as a short-order cook, it isn’t his idea. How long will it be before Mercedes is ridiculing Larry like she did her husband? …

It sounds side-splittingly funny, does it not?

Of course they will have to go pretty far to top all the ‘feel-good’ comedies about unemployment made during the Bush administration.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, June 30th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

21 Responses to “Movie Explores Funny Side Of Unemployment”

  1. oldpuppydixie says:

    Funny that unemployment only becomes funny when a leftist is responsible for it!

  2. Chinnubie says:

    Yeah,because going back to college and getting in debt to the tune of $43,000 dollars is in itself just hilarious. Never mind that the wonderful new college degree can’t get me a job to save my ass, because now I don’t have any previous experience in anything I want to pursue regarding my degree. Trust me when I say there aren’t a whole lot of entry level jobs pouring out of anywhere. Not to mention not many companies want to hire 43 year- old men for entry level jobs. I’m caught in a terrible quandry and I don’t find any of it FUNNY!!

    • canary says:

      Chinnubie, God Bless You.

      The new regulations Obama spit out Jan 1, paying 40% of wages to a select group favoring felons on top, people who never set a foot in high school, etc.

      A liberal tried to tell me I didn’t see my teen sons application as it was a big fast food chain. Hello? Franchise.

    • Anonymoose says:

      I can relate, the “old get a degree and a future” idea doesn’t work anymore. I’m also 43 and already have a Master’s, but am at a standstill in my career. I cross my fingers everyday I’m still able to go to work even if I have to contend with a couple of lazy and extreme liberals who take being employed for granted. To be marketable again I’d need a second Master’s degree as a subject specialty, and as a result plunge so far into debt I’ll never pay it off—and this is even assuming the profession I’m in bottoms out of it’s death spiral.

  3. Rusty Shackleford says:

    I was a newlywed in the 90’s when Clinton was president and freshly released from active duty from the military and unable to find a really significant job. I was living in a city that was very popular to move to, and people were selling out from the snow-belt, buying a house in the sun-belt, and employers knew this, expecting new employees to just be happy to be in the warm environment and taking low wages. Due to the Clinton presidency I ended up taking garbage for work. Ultimately, when Bush was president, I was able to find a much better job but moved out of the sun-belt to get it. Had to deal with ice, snow, etc. My marriage ultimately failed because I took a job in a craptacular rust-town that paid well but wifey wouldn’t move to. I still have this job, live in a better climate now, but have been divorced since 2000. Hard to disassociate the two as cause and effect.

    But there weren’t any movies about it being funny how low wages and a Clinton presidency were so characteristic of the times. Yeah, it was such an absolute scream. Har-dee-har, frikkin’ har. Wifey couldn’t figure this out. Gave up on me. Thanks Bill. Seems that you have such a way with women after all.

    OK, rant off. Sorry gang. It’s just part of the reason why I hate democrats.

  4. tranquil.night says:

    Totally missed opportunity to use the best jokes out there, like how those shovel ready jobs weren’t as shovel ready as thought, and how we’ve hit a couple speed bumps on the road to recovery, and let’s not forget – Unexpectedly™!

    So Hanks gets fired, looks over to see 50 plasma flat screens with Spike saying we’ve hit speed bumps right as Hanks unexpectedly gets hit by a bus sporting a huge WTF: 2012 campaign ad. Funnybot itself couldn’t do better.

  5. Right of the People says:

    I think its time for us to maybe give the beautiful people in LA-LA land a taste of what unemployment feels like and boycott all of their stuff.

    Being unemployed sucks, been there three different times in the last 30+ years and didn’t even get a T-shirt. Didn’t see anything funny about it then and still don’t now. Hollywood needs to get a clue about the real world and start making movies like they used to before the libwits took over.

  6. Rusty Shackleford says:

    “…but the managers doing the dirty deed are smug, unfeeling caricatures.”

    Um, not caricatures at all. Real, true-to-life managers. They are most likely accurate representations of what the real world offers in that they are 1) glad it’s happening to someone else and 2)oblivious to the fact that they might be next.

  7. artboyusa says:

    I’ll wait until if/when I see it before I comment (or don’t). Otherwise, I wouldn’t really know what I was talking about…

  8. P. Aaron says:

    Waiting for the ‘lighter side’ film about home foreclosure, chronic illness, child molestation and spousal abuse. In these tough times, everyone should enjoy a laugh, for diversity’s sake.

  9. Liberals Demise says:

    Yea, I find not being able to feed, clothe, provide shelter for ones’ own family
    hilarious. Hungry children crack me up! Losing the biggest investment you’ll ever
    make (your home) hits my funny bone. What Obamao and cadre are doing to
    us is a Marx Brothers flick of slap stick proportion.
    Why are most of you crying in your popcorn?
    The cartoon isn’t over yet.

  10. Rusty Shackleford says:

    As I re-read this, I’m seeing the typical hollyweird uptake on life. When I grew up and re-viewed some movies I loved as a kid, and the protagonist was doing well in spite of reality, I had to ask, “Where is the money coming from?” and indeed, the article points out that the main character finds work as a short order cook. Well, hm….from mid-level manager at a big-box store…that’s about $60,000 a year…to a short-order cook….about $20,000 to $30,000 a year, depending on what chain you work for….so….all is “right with the world” and that’s what America should shoot for? ‘Scuse me but your definition of happiness sucks out loud, Hanks. It’s missing the key ingredient of a real story….reality. Or, maybe that’s the point. Or, is your goal to reinforce that everyone who is working should make sacrifices and suffer in order to make our dear, golf-playin’ boy president look good? After all, it’s our intellectual superiors who have worked so hard to level all economic outcomes and made it all worth our while by redistributing a trillion and a half tax dollars. No?

    Sorry. My cynical light glowed so very brightly but has since burned out. I find nothing funny about the premise and apparently, the way the story is told sucks out loud as well. And oh, the part about being stuck on-shift making fries and burgers and then the discussion about being fined for not being able to afford to buy health insurance, but that the government says he can…oh, that had me rolling in the aisle.

    • tranquil.night says:

      To Liberal’s, happiness is about the uninhibited pursuit of relationships, not property or individual productivity. To Liberal’s, the primary purpose of production and business is to reward your friends, not to accrue actual wealth.

      We haven’t seen the movie, but with just a passing glance at the substance of the theme, is it that hard to conclude that it attempts to subvert & redefine under a Leftist perspective the fundamental principles that drive independent and successful entrepreneurs?

    • TerryAnne says:

      I think you hit it, tn. The story is all about the liberal idea of happiness: love and how others perceive you (or, that you’re living up to what everyone else says will make you happy). Not a darn thing in there about how Hanks’ character decided to pursue what he really wanted to do and make himself happy while being productive. And, not to mention, the little plug for Zero’s “everyone should have a college education” edict (based off of the boss firing Hanks for “not liking” the fact he has no degree). Which, now that I think of it, is a shallow liberal thought, too; that a person’s worthiness and productivity is not possible without a college degree.

      What gets me is it sounds like there is a character smack in the middle who has Gone Galt and, yet, no one was capable of explaining that. Whether they (Hanks and other writers) couldn’t because they couldn’t understand why their character gave up, or wouldn’t because that would be giving some sort of credence who do (go Galt), is sort of unnecessary….just the simple fact that they never include the explanation is bothersome enough.

      I agree with what Steve said: this plot sounds so elaborate and heavy that it’s “funny” enough just trying to get through the brief write up on it. I find it rather telling that they had to put so much into this movie in order to make it a “laff riot”.

    • tranquil.night says:

      Very good points bringing up Validation By Degree, Atlas Shrugged, and pursuing your passions, TA. I also like BigOil’s point about government assistance and being ‘happier’ on lesser income.

      Big Hollywood knows they’re in trouble, just like all other Big Leftist Media institutions propogating Marxist culture, and every political institution as well. That’s why their only play is getting to be to nervously kick the propoganda into overdrive. We’re coming for ya on all fronts, an “Army of David’s” who’re going Galt, determined to compete with and defeat Marxism/Statism culturally, politically, and economically..

    • TerryAnne says:

      I liked BigOil’s comment, too.

      And it’s even “funnier” when you consider that such a message is being signed, sealed and delievered by people who make untold millions each year for wearing makeup, saying a few lines and looking the part of socially acceptably beautiful on camera or at events each year. People who really haven’t done much with their lives and most likely had shallow lives to begin with as they sought out a career in Hollywood in order to derive their personal jollies from people worshipping them. (That’s not to bash everyone in Hollywood, as there are still a few very talented people there – like Johnny Depp (despite his kookiness), Leo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie (yes…I think she has talent) and a few others; however, most are strictly glory hounds who think they’re far better than they actually are – like Megan Fox, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt.) These are people who have no idea what it means to think and do for themselves (outside of the few who are really talented and pursue acting as a TRUE artform…like Depp), and cannot understand the basic concept that happiness will only come to a person who knows themselves…who can think and do…who does not care what others think…who can be a Dagny (to keep up with the AS correlation).

  11. BigOil says:

    It seems to me they missed out on the biggest joke of all.

    When the jovial Hanks began working for poverty level wages as a short order cook, he became eligible for food stamps, subsidized housing, and the earned income tax credit. Not to mention he no longer pays any state or federal income taxes.

    Is he actually any worse off financially? Not much – and he has achieved Marxist nirvana. A true laff riot.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      I wonder if they have a scene where he goes and looks at the Chevy Volt and finds the salesmen laughing at his credit app. Then coming out and offering him a 1973 Pinto in lieu of the Volt as an “affordable” substitute. It would be a double entendre in that it would be a real comical bit while also taking a stab at Ford. (You know, the guys who wouldn’t take bailout money)

      Then the Variety headline: “Hanks Flick Too Big To Fail!”

    • Liberals Demise says:

      Your on a roll today!

  12. proreason says:

    Nice integration of popular media with the statist propaganda bureaucracy. It’s good to know the apparatchik’s are competant at something.

  13. BillK says:

    I saw it; it’s not an especially good movie, either; it felt like a made-for-video film that got a theatrical release solely on the star power of Hanks and Roberts – something I suspect may be diminished as a result of this turkey.

    Really, I wouldn’t even say this one is worth a rental – catch it on cable if you must.

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