There’s no question Michael Bay can crush giant robots. Now the “Transformers” director has flattened Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.
While reviews for Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” were scarcely glowing, they were nonetheless superior on average to the notices given Hanks and Roberts’ “Larry Crowne,” the romantic comedy that Hanks also directed and is opening this weekend against “Transformers.”
According to two of the three most prominent movie review aggregation sites — Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic — the third “Transformers” film received better marks than “Larry Crowne” by a slim but consistent margin, even though critics largely disliked both films.
Rotten Tomatoes assigned “Transformers” a score of 37% positive reviews compared to “Larry Crowne’s” 35%, while Metacritic favored the intergalactic robot story over the Hanks movie by a 42 to 41 margin. Movie Review Intelligence, the third big aggregation site, gave "Larry Crowne" the narrowest of victories, with the Hanks movie rating 47.1%, barely surpassing the 46.6% for “Transformers.”
While critics for years have loved to trash Bay’s movies, the contempt they dumped on Hanks and Roberts was remarkable for its ferocity.
Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times said “Larry Crowne” is “an inside-out movie, acceptable around the edges but hollow and shockingly unconvincing at its core. When that core is two of the biggest movie stars around — Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts — it’s an especially dispiriting situation.”
In the Wall Street Journal, John Anderson wrote: “As difficult as it is to dislike Mr. Hanks, it takes no effort to all to develop an aversion toward ‘Larry Crowne,’ the alleged comedy being perpetrated today by Mr. Hanks; his director, Mr. Hanks; his producer, Mr. Hanks; and the co-writer, Mr. Hanks. It is a distinctly painful experience.”
Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune said the film “offers zero surprises, but — fatally — no wit, and only the thinnest sort of synthetic charm.”
One of the few nice “Larry Crowne” write-ups came from Boxoffice magazine’s Pete Hammond, who said the film is “a perfect summer comedy for grown-ups looking to escape robots and superheroes.”
At least the “Larry Crowne” reviews are not the worst in either actor’s career. Hanks’ “The Da Vinci Code” was savaged even more brutally in 2006, while Roberts’ “Valentine’s Day” a year ago earned materially lower marks.
-- John Horn
Photo: Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks in "Larry Crowne." Credit: Bruce Talamon/Universal Pictures
Photo: Bumblebee in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Credit: Paramount Pictures