Finally, we have a romantic/comedy that’s warm, and full of ambition. And it so happens to star two very popular actors/actresses, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. With this team and the fact that Hanks directed, produced and co-wrote this film with Nia Vardalos, we have nearly a perfect, fun, no CGI bull shit master piece.
Hanks plays the middle aged title character who works as a team leader at a Umart where has proudly devoted 20 years of his life to the company and worked his way up
the ladder. Despite Larry’s past experience as a cook, he was really into his retail job and his bright red T-shirt. I mean to tell you Larry is a man that will attach his job head on with enthusiasm.
During some political issues, his uppers approach him with some unexpected bad news. The tribe had spoken. Due to Larry not having a college degree, he is let go. He has a house and mortgage to maintain but big wigs never look at that. So Larry is sent packing and pawns off most of his valuables to his pawn daddy, Lamar (Cedric the Entertainer) who will try to hustle a hustler (not this Hustler though).
Finding out how how unfriendly the job market really is, Larry takes it upon himself to go to college in order to get his job back to say the least. So he enrolls at East Valley Community College and signs up for speech, economics and composition. That econ class is taught by George Takei, but all we focus on is his speech and nothing else. Did I mention do not bring a cell phone to his class unless you want him to hold it for you? Ok, I did now.
The professor of speech 217, is Mercedes Tainot (Roberts) who is already burnt out of life and her porn watching husband (Bryan Cranston). Bad boy. Naughty, naughty. However, in order for her to carry on with her class, she must have a minimum of 10 students. Just when she does a head count and comes up one short, she is happily to walk away from it all. At the same moment Larry enters his class room as the oldest student and more importantly makes up number 10.
At first, Mercy takes a shine to Larry in the classroom where he meets this young Talia an effervescent babe played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Her performance made me keep asking for more. She cuts his hair and straightens up his house (before he gives it back to the bank) and pulls him into her street watch motorcycle team headed by her boyfriend Alex Quijano who can see through glass windows.
But when Larry attends Mercy’s class, all the students must come up with any speech on any subject. Well, with Larry not only being a Navy vet, he also an experienced cook. So he talks on French Toast and how it’s made, in English. “Ding, ding, applaud please”, he says at the end of his talk.
The only fallbacks this film has, if really any, is it tugs along a tad bit and there’s not much interaction between Roberts and Hanks early on. But this film picks up the pace and leaves us with a wonderful story that passes the test with an A+. The film opens everywhere July 1, 2011 and is rated PG13 and runs about 95 minutes.
By Hustlin Bob Higgins. 4 1/2 stars