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Larry Crowne Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Archived Reviews' started by Kevin EK, Dec 4, 2011.

  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
    Reviewer

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    Larry Crowne is an unremarkable film that tries its hardest to be a fun romance.  It has a great pair of leads who have both been memorable in other films, and its core idea could work with the right approach.  Alas, such is not the case here.  The Blu-ray release from last month presents the movie in the best possible picture and sound, along with a few brief extras.  But fans of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts may find their patience tested here.



    CROWNE

    Studio: Universal/Vendome Pictures/Playtone

    Release Year:  2011

    Length:  1 hr 39 mins

    Genre:  Comedy/Romance


    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

    BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, VC-1 (@ an average 27 mbps)

    Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.6 mbps – up to 5.1 during musical segues), English DVS 2.0

    Subtitles:   English SDH, Spanish, French


    Film Rating:  PG-13 (Brief Strong Language and Some Sexual Content)


    Release Date:  November 15, 2011


    Starring:  Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Cedric The Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Vanderrama & Pam Grier

    Written by:  Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos

    Directed by:  Tom Hanks


    Review Rating:    2/5


    Larry Crowne is one of those movies that you’d think would be a success just from the ingredients, but it doesn’t work out that way.  The basic premise is that Larry (Tom Hanks), laid off from his big box store job in the middle of our current economic hardship, finds he must go to community college to get the degree that might have saved him from the axe.  In the course of doing so, he meets English/Speech teacher  Mercedes(Julia Roberts) who has her own personal issues, makes friends with his much-younger classmates, and generally gets a new lease on life.  Now, the bare bones of that idea have some potential.  You could certainly make an interesting drama from it, or even an edgy, dark comedy along the lines of Ben Stiller’s movies.  But that’s not what Tom Hanks is after here, and as co-writer, co-producer and director of the movie, it’s his show all the way.  The movie angles instead to be an uplifting, fun romantic comedy with a few mildly darker moments – showing a hint of the issues driving Mercedes and a hint of the economic reality of Larry’s imploding life.   This approach would work with lighter material, but it’s hard to find the uplift in a middle-aged man with no education and no family losing his job and his home, or a middle-aged woman trapped in an unhappy marriage.  And it’s a lot harder to find the funny in scenes that take those situations as upbeat.  There’s a real air of desperation around this film, and it isn’t coming from the story or the characters – it’s from the storytellers here.  The movie wants you to enjoy it, wants you to really, really like it.  It gives Larry and Mercedes every possible meet-cute moment, and it surrounds Larry with an impossibly perky group of classmates who don’t seem to have any problem accepting a man 25 years their senior into their group.   The movie is bracketed by 80’s music from ELO which gives the film a kind of nostalgic tint that may not have been intentional here.    That said, the movie does have a few pluses.  It’s competently staged and filmed, and there are a few nice moments.  George Takei has a fun cameo as an economics professor, and there’s a late-in-the-film throwaway moment with a pizza delivery guy that has a refreshing tinge of nastiness after all the happy comfort food that has gone before it.  But it’s difficult to find any reason to recommend viewers to purchase or rent this film, even with the two stars headlining it.  Fans of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts may want to rent this, but with the understanding that this not their best film.


    Larry Crowne was released on Blu-ray and DVD on November 15th.  The Blu-ray edition contains high definition picture and audio of the movie and a few extras.  The usual Blu-ray functionality is here, including pocket BLU and BD-Live. 



    VIDEO QUALITY   4/5

    Larry Crowne is presented in a 2.40:1 1080p VC-1 encode that does a good job of translating the film image to Blu-ray.   Flesh tones and details all look good, although the added detail goes a long way toward reminding the viewer that we’re more than 20 years past Pretty Woman and Big.  The closing credit sequence/song shows obvious video and CGI seams, but this is clearly intentional.


    AUDIO QUALITY    4/5

    Larry Crowne gets a solid English DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix, which finds most of the sound in the front channels, as is appropriate for a comedy.  The surrounds and subwoofer come to life during the various musical segues, particularly at the beginning and end with the two ELO songs, and for the mid-film motorcycle run, played to the tune of Tom Petty’s “Running Down a Dream”.   There is also an English DVS track.


    SPECIAL FEATURES      2/5

    Larry Crowne comes  with a few special features, including some deleted scenes, a quick featurette on the making of the film, and some on-set gag footage.  There’s also the usual Blu-ray functionality.


    Deleted Scenes (8:03 Total, 1080p) – Several deleted scenes are presented here in high definition, mostly from the very beginning of the film – including a lengthy depiction of Larry’s walk of shame out of the big box store and his “drive of shame” to his home afterward.


    The Making of Larry Crowne  (11:23, 1080p) – This short featurette covers the basics of the making of the film, including some on-set footage and interviews with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Nia Vardalos and others.  There’s not a lot of ground covered here, other than the usual mutual compliments, and a good chunk of the running time here is taken up with clips from the film.


    Fun on Set (10:44, 1080p) – You would think with a title like that this would be a gag reel, but it’s more along the lines of candid video from the set, usually showing Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts doing something really cute.  There are a couple of genuinely funny bits here – Roberts is shown doing needlepoint during one bit of footage, leading to Hanks having the whole crew do it.  That bit of footage shows Roberts being tickled about walking into the middle of a setwide knitting party.  There’s also one good bit with Hanks’ wife making a surprise appearance at video village on the day of their wedding anniversary.


    pocket BLU – The usual pocket BLU functionality is present here.


    BD-Live – The usual BD-Live functionality is present, including a few online trailers that play as soon as you put the disc in your internet-connected player.


    The movie and the special features are subtitled in English, French and Spanish.  The usual pop-up menu is present, along with a complete chapter menu. 



    IN THE END...

    Larry Crowne is a movie one would love to recommend, but it just isn’t that interesting or memorable.  It tries very hard to be fun and appealing, but simply doesn’t succeed.  The Blu-ray presents the movie in the best possible light, but it’s difficult to recommend it, even to fans of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.


    Kevin Koster

    December 4, 2011.

     

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