Larry Crowne (12A/PG-13, 98 mins)
Director: Tom Hanks ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Tom Hanks marks his second time out as director with this throwaway comedy drama, co-writing with Nia Vardalos of My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame. Hanks also stars as Larry Crowne, a department store worker and model employee who is let go because he doesn’t have a college education. Recently divorced, unable to find another job, and with negative equity on his house, he decides his only recourse is to go back to college where one of his tutors turns out to be Julia Roberts. Leaving aside the similarities to the episode of Family Guy where Peter is passed over from promotion because he hadn’t finished the third grade, this is a breezy and charming, if paper thin confection that features very little interaction between its two stars during the early stages and too many incidental characters. It’s lightly comical without aiming for especially funny, but some shoddy physical gags let it down, and with its modest budget and ambitions, it’s far from the superstar vehicle suggested, though both Hanks and Roberts remain highly watchable.