This delightful and clever rom com will touch you in exactly the same way that “Last Chance Harvey” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” did. So much here is real, funny and warm that even a heart of stone will melt.
Tom Hanks – too often irritating on film – is rather adorable as the newly-fired Larry, who goes back to college. His teachers are Julia Roberts and George Takei. The presence of Mr Sulu himself gives a double hit of “Star Trek” (with Transformers) in one week. Bliss.
The script will give you many laugh out loud moments, being beautifully written by Hanks and Nia Vardalos (“Greek Wedding”) and combining the best of the expected rom com conventions with really quirky touches and the story flows happily to its conclusion.
Takei teaches economics, with sly nods to his most famous role. Pam Grier is slightly underused, but that’s been her fate since “Jackie Brown”. Julia Roberts is older than she was when she played her most iconic roles, but that’s delightful. Her semi-alcoholism and her bad marriage to Bryan Cranston (such a great actor and so wasted here) contrast against her teaching to show a rounded character.
The younger actors are delightful. Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Talia and Wilmer Valderrama as Dell are terrific and both are talents to watch out for. Rami Malek puts in some glorious energy as Steve Dibiasi. We’re in “Room 222” meets “Welcome Back, Kotter” and the ride is more fun for these shining new talents.
The soundtrack is great, too.
It’s a shame there were so few people in the audience at Stratford Picturehouse. This film deserves to be picked up and adored by the intelligentsia. I fear it will not reach its natural audience, because Hanks and Roberts are seen as mainstream. Yet, fellow geeks, do enjoy this rare offering aimed squarely at the brain, as well as at the heart. I loved it.