Tom Hanks directs and stars in this lacklustre romantic comedy he's co-written with Nia Vardalos, the writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Designed as a feel-good film to provide light relief in challenging financial times Larry Crowne is mildly amusing, but never quite gets out of first gear or realises the talent of its A-list cast.

Hanks is positively chipper as Crowne, a retail store team leader and seven-time recipient of the Employee of the Month award. Naturally, he's bewildered when he loses his job due to the company downsizing.

The reason he's given for his dismissal is he hasn't got a degree, so Larry, keen for a fresh start, heads off to the local community college.

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This is where things start to get a little implausible. At college he's befriended by hip Vespa-driving Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a fellow student who takes him under her wing, gives him a makeover, and with a little feng shui turns his house into something resembling mid-century cool.

Hanks playing the charming and slightly goofy guy next door is fine, but the act loses its way when he also tries to include "fashionable" in the mix.

Julia Roberts plays Larry's disheartened teacher and love interest, Mercedes Tainot. The two have worked together before on Charlie Wilson's War, no doubt they thought it would be fun to do it again, and they look like they're having a good time.

They're relaxed and whip through the material with ease, but when it comes to sexual attraction, it's just not there.

Roberts' winning smile doesn't get much of a workout here, she spends most of the film acting grumpy with a hangover; and no matter how fond you are, or aren't, of Hanks this material isn't really worthy of him either.

It's sweet, bordering on mushy, and while it's a nice reminder that life in a recession doesn't mean the end of the world, overall Larry Crowne is more cringeworthy than uplifting.

Stars: 2/5
Cast: Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks
Director: Tom Hanks
Running time: 99 mins
Rating: M (Offensive language)
Verdict: Forgettable fluff - neither Hanks or Roberts can save this bland rom-com.

- TimeOut

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