Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crowne

Believe it or not Larry Crowne was the movie I most looked forward to in the summer of 2011. Having read numerous scripts over my past several years as a paid script reader many of them just sort of blend together. Some I remember bits and pieces of; some I remember the concept or the title or who is supposed to star; but some, for all I know, will never come out, and if they do, I missed the memo. Sometimes I will be watching a trailer and the urge will sneak over me that hey, I think I read this.

Such is the script reading business. Not that it matters. For one, it helps to have a fresh perspective when the actual film comes out and for second, don't movies themselves, after a certain point of consumption, take on this characteristic as well?

To get to the point, Larry Crowne was one of the few scripts that stayed with me. I read it and loved it, praised it with recommendations and eagerly anticipated its release. On the page it was magical. It reminded me of the warmth and loveliness of Tom Hanks in Spielberg's hugely underrated The Terminal. It was about the most rare of all leading men: a nice guy.

When I was finished reading the script I just felt good. It is was a nice movie about nice people. Movies aren't very often nice anymore. I felt it was exactly what Hollywood in 2011 needed: a star vehicle with no huge plot points, no gimmicks and nothing but charisma and charm.

And then the reviews rolled in. Larry Crowne now, two weeks into its release sits at 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some of the top critics liked it (David Edelstein, James Berandinelli) but the vast majority waved their hands in front of their noses. It was, in a small way, sort of crushing. Even worse, Kid in the Front Row, who was also buzzing about it before it's release, weighed in with equal distaste. What happened?

So here's the question: does one go and see Larry Crowne and hope for the best? Do I sit and hope that the critics just couldn't see the magic that was so prevalent in the script, with the chance of being horribly disappointed, or do I stay away and keep my memory of Larry Crowne as being one of the nicest scripts I've ever read?

I'll see it of course but the question raised is an interesting one. Should a film be judged based on it's finished product or can it's value exist in the memories we create around it? Should a finished film wreck a good script or a good trailer or even a good song or is it possible to leave the filmic experience behind and just keep what was so appealing to us in the first place?

If I don't see Larry Crowne, it will be, for all I know, a great movie. If I hadn't went on to see some movies they would have remained great simply based on what their trailers offered. But is this enough? Is the final film the total package from which all is judged against or is it just one small step along in the entire personal process of shaping a positive memory about a single work?



  1. From everything I hear, the movie is perfectly average so I don't think it will hurt for you to see it. But I definitely understand your quandary and if I was in the same situation, I would most likely skip the movie.

  2. Every trailer ever made has tried to sell a film as being good.
    Perhaps the only time I remember hearing someone before a release be sceptical of their own work is lars von trier in the press conference at Cannes for Melancolia, but then again you don't get much more controversial than him...
    I think another reason why I might have my doubts of the quality of Larry Crowne is tom hanks films have not been great recently IMHO(I'm not a toy story follower)