Wheee! Scooters are fun! This midlife crisis thing ain't so bad.
Instead of chasing young tail and bandying about in leathers on a newly purchased motorcycle, Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) is handling his midlife crisis by enrolling in community college and squiring/escorting teacher Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts) around town on his cool blue Vespa in this week's release 'Larry Crowne.' (Before we continue, can we stop for a moment to examine the name Mercedes Tainot? Seriously? Who came up with that one? But I digress.)
Larry Crowne's crisis begins when he's canned from his retail job for not having a college education. After he's unable to land another retail gig, he decides to give college, well, the ol' college try. Upon arriving at the school, he's inexplicably cajoled by the dean into taking a class on the art of casual conversation. Because, sure, that's gonna help him become more marketable in a cut-throat job market. But whatever. It's taught by pretty Mrs. Tainot, so Larry Crowne is happy.
He's also happy because his sweet new scooter helped him land some cool new friends, like a pretty young coed who's just dying to give him and his house a makeover.
Surly Mrs. Tainot happens to be going through a mid-life crisis of her own. She's losing her zest for teaching, and has become unable to tolerate her husband (Bryan Cranston). He's written a couple of books and appears to coast on his book money, but the fact that he lacks ambition and fills his days admiring bikini pics online infuriates the Mrs. to no end.
'Larry Crowne' certainly isn't going to find itself listed among movies that truly capture the agony and confusion of going through a midlife crisis. If you're looking for something with a bit more meat that's a smidge more relatable, you may want to try one of these midlife-themed gems.
1. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) in 'American Beauty.' Oh, Lester! Fantasizing about your daughter's nubile young friend is kind of creepy. But who can blame him? His wife (Annette Bening) is ice cold, and quite obviously having an affair with that annoying guy named Buddy (Peter "Eyebrows" Gallagher). Lester's bizarre journey is truly fascinating as he tries to figure out his life and his career as his marriage deteriorates and his children no longer need him.
2. Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) in 'The Life Aquatic.' After his BFF is killed by a Jaguar Shark, Zissou begins to question everything about his own life and makes it his mission to hunt down and kill the evil beast. Along the way he does fatherly stuff with the man who may or may not be his long-lost son (Owen Wilson), pursues a much-younger reporter (Cate Blanchett), and rescues his nemesis (Jeff Goldblum). Obviously, rescuing a nemesis is a key life moment! The journey changes Zissou, which helps him win back his wife's (Anjelica Huston) affection.
3. Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) in 'Sideways.' Can you say pathetic? Miles steals money from his mother, drunk dials the ex-wife he's still in love with and remains an unpublished author. Time to start examining some life choices!
4. Jules Allgood (Julianne Moore) in 'The Kids are All Right.' Her kids are getting older and her wife (Annette Bening, once again) is on her case about getting a real job. As if that wasn't enough, now the kids' biological father (Mark Ruffalo) is in the picture, and he happens to be super foxy and waaay into her. What's a forty-something woman to do? Crisis time!
5. Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) in 'Wonder Boys.' Is this what happens when men peak too young? Professor Tripp's third wife has just left him, and he seems to be gravitating back towards women closer to his own age (he even ignores advances by Katie Holmes!). That's not necessarily such a great thing, though, when he knocks up his married boss (Frances McDormand).