Beyond a Movie Review: Larry Crowne

Written 9/3/13

Since I’ve been in Toronto without internet (grrr), I’ve been re-watching a lot of movies. Eat, Pray, Love reminded me to stop worrying and open up all that space in my mind to “let the world rush in” to love me and carry me in the right direction. I felt that the character’s words must ring true because a funny man down by the St. Lawrence Market had told me a similar thing (albeit in a more startling way) the day afterwards. Tangled reminded me of all my suitemates from sophomore year, when we all went to see it in theaters and then visited the “live” version of Rapunzel and Flynn Ryder when we visited Disney World over spring break. The Devil Wears Prada reminded me of my best friend who lives in DC and how we are both making bold life choices, learning to navigate the real world from separate cities but still maintaining a deep connection.

And today I decided to re-watch Larry Crowne. I watched it last during winter break of senior year at Rice. It delighted me then when I was stressed and it still has new words for me now. I love the story of a genuinely nice, hard-working man (Tom Hanks) who, through pursuing education at the local community college, regains his self-respect, finances, a tight friend group—and of course finds the love of his life, his Speech 217 professor (Julia Roberts). Besides the fact that George Takei plays an hilariously dry-humored Economics professor, it’s just an uplifting movie that seems somewhat realistic (not everything would be so perfectly tied up at the end, but I believe that education can bring anyone new opportunities and connections, if you are open to change).

Today it made me happy for a new reason. Near the end, the movie shows Larry Crowne walking down the middle of campus with his classmates. They laugh like friends, easily social. Two of the characters, Larry included, are much older and yet there don’t seem to be barriers. It doesn’t matter that they have been through different life experiences, and that the younger characters haven’t lived through as much. They all seem to realize for that moment that life has brought them together and those barriers of “wisdom,” “age,” and “experience” don’t have to get in the way. Same goes for Larry’s scooter “gang,” which goes to show that even the young adults that look rough don’t always ride around to vandalize or cause trouble.

Right now, this is sort of like my story. I am meeting people in Toronto every day who aren’t my age, and yet there doesn’t seem to be the same kind of barrier between us as there might have been back in the suburbs of Austin. I met a woman at the St. Lawrence Markets who asked me to be her guide to the Kensington Gardens. I didn’t think I knew enough to guide her, but it turns out I did have better navigation skills. Somehow I might already know a little something about getting around in this huge city. We ended up wandering around the markets, sharing our stories, and then she came with me to a free concert in the center of downtown. Though she was much older and has a daughter about my age, she danced around as much or more than I did. It was all about shared interests and apparently she liked shopping through thrift stores and antique markets, drinking tea, and attending free cultural events just like me.

I’ve met so many other people and I’m excited now at the prospect of making even more new connections. I know not every interaction with be this positive, but I’m glad that Larry Crowne seemed to agree with me that it’s better to hope and celebrate these successes than focus on the negative parts of society.

Not to mention this time I was even more impressed with the film because TOM HANKS WROTE IT. I have so much more respect for it now. Well-written, and of course, expertly acted by the Hanx himself.


About austinausten88

Playwright in love with Classic films, afternoon tea, and Noel Coward. She recently graduated from Rice University. In the fall, she will be exchanging her English major undergraduate status for that of Theatre & Performance Studies graduate student.
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