2011-07-01

Larry Crowne – It’s Nice To Have Help In Hard Times

by Yo Snyder

Tom Hanks seems like a nice guy. It only makes sense that a nice guy would make a nice guy kind of movie. Larry Crowne
is, for a lack of a better word, a very nice movie. Everyone in it is
nice. Everything works out nicely. It’s just all so nice. Now, some
people probably won’t like that, but I’m the type who likes a sappy,
feel-good movie every now and then. Larry Crowne is funny,
heart-felt, happy and yes, nice. It makes for an enjoyable, relaxing
time at the movies. No whiz-bang effects or epic plots or loud action;
just a simple, fun, old-fashioned romantic comedy.

This movie
feels like Tom Hanks’ personal message of encouragement to everyone
having a hard time these days. The opening of the movie may be a little
tough to watch as it may strike a little too close to home for some.
Nice guy Larry loses his job, and it’s not all that easy to find a new
one, no matter how hard he tries. In the end, he goes back to college to
get a degree because it was the lack of one that cause him to lose his
job in the first place. Larry Crowne feels like Tom Hanks wants
everyone to know that he knows times are tough, but he doesn’t want us
to lose hope because things will get better. If we’re willing to work
hard, help each other out and not lose hope, things will eventually get
better. 

Let me add to that note of encouragement that you don’t
have to face hard times alone. There is a loving God who is ready and
willing to lend you a helping hand. There’s been a little misinformation
spread about following Jesus Christ. Some may say that becoming a
Christian means that all of your problems will be magically solved. Of
course that’s not the way it works, and when it doesn’t work that way,
it’s easy to say that Christianity doesn’t work. God never promised to
make all of our problems go away, but he does say in 2 Chronicles that
his eyes roam the Earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully
committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Even Christians will face hard
times, but the difference is God will face those tough times with us. He
will be there to help and strengthen us so we can get through those
hard times. In Psalm 23 we don’t walk around the valley of the shadow
death, we walk through it with God at our side. So yes, hard
times will come, but you don’t have to face them alone; God loves you,
and he wants to be there with you in good times and bad. 

While
the main thrust of the story is how all-around good guy Larry handles
hard times, the movie also brushes on another, very important topic;
pornography. I really like how the movie, however briefly, handles this
issue. There’s no sly nudging and winking. No “boys will be boys” and
this is just what they do. This was a realistic portrayal of just how
dangerous porn is. It destroys marriages. It ruins relationships. It’s
an addiction that makes people pathetic. In the movie, the character
even says he’s just “a guy being a guy”, but it comes across just as
lame and pathetic as that excuse actually is. There’s nothing mild about
porn, nothing about it that that makes “dabbling” with it okay. Nothing
about it that makes it an inevitable “pastime” of any “red-blooded”
male. It’s dangerous, destructive and not something to ignore or wink
about. Larry Crowne doesn’t, and I’m glad that it doesn’t it. 

In
truth, that’s the only not nice element of this movie. The rest of the
movie moves casually along from one element to the next as Larry makes
new friends, makes tough economic choices to better his situation, and
generally works towards his happy ending. Tom Hanks exudes his usual
level of nice-guy charm, making him a pleasure to watch as he usually
his. Julia Roberts plays her part as she often has, and is as charming
as ever. The two make for a great team and are fun to watch on screen.
The supporting cast does a great job with their wacky but nice
characters, and George Takei has a great small role that’s obviously a
lot of fun.

It’s interesting, because in reading other reviews
about this movie one of the chief complaints is that it’s too happy.
There’s no real bad guy or villain. True. Everything works out a little
too easily for nice guy Larry. Also true. And the happy ending is about
as inevitable and Hollywood as you can get. That’s true too, but I don’t
see the problem. What’s wrong with having a happy movie that makes you
feel good? Sure, everything in our lives during hard times probably
won’t work out quite as neatly or conveniently as it does for Larry, but
this is movie; don’t we go to the movies to escape from the way things
really are? Have we become so cynical and down-trodden in recent years
that we’ll complain about the fact that a movie is too nice, too happy,
and too optimistic to enjoy? I’m sorry, but I just don’t get that. I
like this quiet little happy movie that made me laugh and feel good. I
like that it wasn’t complicated, harried, or stressed. It’s a great date
movie, it’s enjoyable, it’s simple, and yes, it’s very nice. Is it
perfect? No, it’s a bit simplistic, but it’s still nice to think that
there just might be some genuinely nice people out there, and maybe,
just maybe, if we could all find a way to be a little more like them,
perhaps hard times might be just a little more tolerable.