Never at any point does this movie touch upon reality. Ex-Navy cook turned U-Mart employee of the month Larry Crowne (Hanks) gets the sack, swaps his gas-guzzling 4x4 for a secondhand scooter and signs up for community college, where his public- speaking teacher turns out to be the jaded ‘Miss’ Tainot (Roberts), who self-medicates with cocktails while her self-published loser husband surfs porn.
Being an all-round good guy but also a fish out of water, the innocent, hard-working Larry is instantly embraced by his young fellow students, receiving a sartorial and tonsorial makeover from the beautiful, free-spirited Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and her scooter-riding pals, before catching the eye of his equally lovely teacher.
After the fizzy, pop-tastic stylings of ‘That Thing You Do!’, this is a backward step for director Hanks, whose co-writer Nia Vardalos (‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’) must share the blame for a script that is flat, anodyne and littered with lazy coincidences. Hanks is as loveable as ever, Roberts flashes her billion-dollar smile and – as in ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ – they do make a funny, charmingly mismatched couple. Scene stealer Mbatha-Raw’s Talia dreams of owning her own secondhand clothing store, and this is like a well-worn vintage dress: comfortable but a little threadbare.