Everyone likes pasta. It's reliable, inoffensive, nourishing. It might not be as exciting as the sauces, the spices, the meat, the cheese, the fish, but it's an essential bedrock. A bowl of sauce without pasta would not a meal make. But you wouldn't want a bowl of just plain pasta - boiled, no seasoning, no nothing - either. Would you?
Larry Crowne is an inoffensive film. It fills the time, it's wholesome, stolid. You may be able to see where I'm going with this. Yep, it's a plain pasta movie. It details the life of a man, Larry Crowne (played by Tom Hanks, who also directs and wrote the screenplay) in his mid-fifties who, upon being made redundant, decides to go back to college, where he studies for a qualification under a brittle teacher (Julia Roberts) in a troubled marriage. He is also given a makeover by a sublimely obnoxious twenty-something free spirit, and rides around on a scooter a bit.
This blandfest has practically nothing in the way of dramatic conflict, or jeopardy. There's no danger, no tension, no sauce, no spice. Everything happens pretty much exactly the way you think it will happen, and what happens is not so radical. Even the most predictable of rom-coms know that there must be at least a contrived misunderstanding, a dastardly villain or dramatic set piece for its characters to navigate.
Larry Crowne just feels flat. Nobody wants every film to pack a challenging emotional gut punch, have you rolling in the aisles with laughter, have you chewing your nails to bloody stumps, watching with revulsion through your fingers, or sobbing into your popcorn. But Larry Crowne is so much the opposite of all these things, it's difficult to see quite what they were aiming for. I suspect it's supposed to be a heart-warming drama. It left my heart lukewarm, and there's precious little drama.