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How Do Critics Feel About the Romantic Chemistry in Larry Crowne?

There's a point in the trailer for Larry Crowne that's more than a little jarring: Suddenly, after Julia Roberts has spent her screen time disdainfully tutoring Tom Hanks's mentally special, 50-year-old boy-man, she is collapsing in giddy laughter and begging him to kiss her. A moviegoer might wonder how Hanks and Roberts got from Point A to Point B, and might even charitably assume that the film itself would fill in those blanks ... but according to most movie critics, it doesn't quite get there. Here, then, is a sampling of writers befuddled by the romantic plotting and personal chemistry between Hanks's Larry Crowne and Roberts's Mercedes Tainot.

"When she and Larry finally kiss, it's hard to see why anyone would want to. But the script (co-written by Hanks and Nia 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Vardalos) demands it." —Washington Post

"An utter lack of chemistry between [Hanks] and Roberts dooms the movie." —Chicago Reader

"Isn't it far-fetched for the striking, intellectual Mercedes to take up with Larry, one of her adult students whose job is now flipping burgers?" —USA Today

"Because even this movie knows that a Forrest Gump/Pretty Woman romantic pairing is not going to fly, Larry Crowne spends much of its time detailing the changes Crowne's new scooter-riding friends make in his appearance and personality ... It's all for naught, because Larry Crowne's love connection between student and teacher is one of the most unconvincing in memory. Not only is the on-screen chemistry between Hanks and Roberts less than zero, the film's feckless script can't be bothered to come up with a scenario for their getting together that's even a fraction as plausible as Tainot's initial scorn." —Los Angeles Times

"When the stars finally, inevitably connect in a mashing kiss, there is little visible chemistry, although Mr. Hanks acts more excitedly goofy than Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah Winfrey's couch." —New York Times

"Her nastiness toward Larry and her hot-and-cold relationship with him make you wonder why he's even interested in her. But, of course, you do know because she's Julia Roberts and he's Tom Hanks." —Hollywood Reporter

"It's hard to think of a less sexy pairing of Hanks and Roberts than the one they endured in Charlie Wilson's War ... the sex wouldn't ruffle feathers at a Taliban recruitment session." —Toronto Star

But hey! There is also this:

"It's Tom Hanks. It's Julia Roberts. They're kissing ... I had a migraine when I started watching Larry Crowne, and by the end, it went away. None of this quite adds up to a recommendation, but it's close. Very close." —San Francisco Chronicle

Photo: Bruce Talamon/Universal Studios