Who's In It: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Bryan Cranston, Cedric The Entertainer, Taraji P. Henson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wilmer Valderrama, Pam Grier, George Takei, Rita Wilson, Rob Riggle
The Basics: Larry Crowne (Hanks), a 20-year Navy veteran, spends a decade in the trenches of a big-box discount store only to be suddenly laid off because he's not college educated and, therefore, thanks to corporate policy, not worth promoting. Unable to pay his mortgage, he goes to work in a diner. He also signs up for speech classes at a community college under beaten-down professor Mercedes Tainot (Roberts). Just then, Larry meets a happy-go-lucky gang of young, life-coaching scooter enthusiasts/organizational experts who adopt him as their middle-aged mascot, teach him to dress like Criss Angel and rearrange his furniture according to the principles of feng shui. If you're rolling your eyes as you read this then it might not be the film for you.
What's The Deal: It's interesting to note that co-writer Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) only appears in this movie as the GPS voice in Julia Roberts's car and not as any flesh-and-blood character, because her presence is everywhere. She has a kind of goofy, middle-of-the-road, old-fashioned charm that keeps you smiling even when your modern sensibility tells you that everything happening on screen feels like a situation that would be more likely to play out on a vintage episode of The Brady Bunch. You know what's coming a mile away, you know all the beats and resolutions and happy endings and that's why you buy your ticket. It's a nonstop dork-athon, a giant friendly dog that refuses to back off and stop licking your face, the optimistic, gentle friend you look at like he's a weirdo because he refuses to give up hope even when reality threatens to crush his gee-whiz worldview; in other words, it's the perfect movie to go see with your parents. That's what I'm going to do, anyway.
No Sex Please, We Are Tom Hanks And Julia Roberts And Even This One Kissing Scene Is Making Us Both Feel Kind Of Ooky: Adding to its parent-friendly vibe is the total lack of any sexual chemistry at all between its leads, characters who are presumably falling in love over the course of the movie. They share exactly two tight-lipped smooches and, more often than not, very little alone-time to convince us that they're made for each other's middle-of-life meltdowns. You can tell they like each other as movie-star-buddies, they're relaxed, unshowy and inviting, but there's not one moment where you get the idea that naked sex activities are on anyone's agenda. And I know this will sound weird, but because this chaste, unsophisticated PG fog permeates everything and is in keeping with the overall tone of the movie, it isn't exactly a negative thing.
Hijacking Every Scene He's In: George Takei. He plays an authoritarian, possibly insane, maniacally cackling economics professor. His job is to show up with a strange look on his face and unsettle you until you laugh and he gets that job done efficiently.